Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 70)

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Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 70)

Postby Meaneye » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:16 pm

Hello everybody!

I have been a not-so long time lurker here at the Black Library Bolthole, but I was fascinated by the idea of moving the 40K timeline forward and introducing new elements into the setting. I always felt that the 'grimdark' nature can be maintained or even raised to new levels, and the (50K) and (60K) projects reflect my opinion quite well. To contribute to the story, I started to write a fanfiction of my own with the above title, and I feel I now have enough material to start presenting it.

I don't have a lot of experience in writing longer stories, and it surprised me how much I had to work to flesh out the people starring in Fatemakers' Odyssey. I have about 30 pages ready and saved on my computer, and the story has just started to gain momentum. For this reason, you won't be able to realize that the story is a proper 50K one: for the first chapter, it could very well take place in the official M41 setting (except for the introductory line, which will probably give you an idea of what my heroes will face later on :D ). Please bear with me: it WILL be a 50K story, although not for the first few weeks.

I don't plan to make any career out of writing (in fact, I may get all similar urges out of my system by the end of the story), but I would be grateful for any comment or criticism.

So enjoy the story of the mighty Fatemakers - and let's hope there is no parallel universe where they actually exist and the things I have in store for my characters really come into being :roll: .

Fatemakers' Odyssey

Chapter One

New Novgarrod System, Subsector Echydra, Sector Malachias.

21 days until the Emperor’s death.

The Land Raider went right through the barricades of the first defence line. One of the soldiers fell under the tracks with a shrill, the others scattered instantly: they ran away from the machines in a state of panic, being cut down as they fled by the pintle-mounted bolter on the vehicle’s top. The Land Raider, like the creature operating the bolter, was armoured in rock-crete grey armour over black joints and crevices. Three similar vehicles were following the first one: two armed with deadly lascannons, one with two sets of massive bolter racks towered on its sides. None of these weapons fired; not yet. Apparently, the drivers thought that the tracks of the vehicles and the bolters on the top were more than enough for the rabble on the barricades.

They were right too. The four Land Raiders did not even bother to properly destroy the defenders. They merely swatted them away like a man in a hurry pushes away a child. No slowing down, no proper engagement; just four fast-moving slabs of metal contemptuously passing through a barrier painstakingly erected exactly against these kinds of intrusions. The corporal who was responsible for the defence of this incoming road somehow survived the rush: he climbed on all fours just to avoid certain death, hurled himself behind some pile of rubble, and by the time he dared to look out, the Land Raiders were already gone. His dazed and confused men looked as the dust-trail from the attacking vehicles slowly dissipated. The corporal stood up, shook his head wildly and then grabbed one of the soldiers by the neck.

‘Call command!’ he shouted. He pushed the man away and turned back to where the land Raiders had gone. He felt clueless and humiliated. His job was to stop similar vehicles, or, at the very least, slow them down and report them to his superiors. The way these arrogant bastards treated them-

He was interrupted by his vox operator. Still fuming, he snatched the speaker from the poor man’s hand, and started to make his report. He was pretty sure Council of the Righteous would have his hide for such an injustice, unless he could make his failure an extremely heroic one. His only consolation was that the enemy would not stay alive long enough to further his humiliation.

Ever since the Council of the Righteous selflessly wrested control from the corrupt hand of the fallen Imperium and took custody of the sacred city of Belandon, the capital of New Novgarrod III, the faithful had to endure attacks upon attacks from the False Emperor’s lapdogs. Belandon was a manufacturing complex, which meant the enemy could not erase it from orbit or pound it into the dust with artillery; especially because they did not possess the means at all. Belandon was the planetary capital, with over 80% of the industry and more than half of the military concentrated there. The capital lacked the manpower to occupy the rest of the planet, while the unfaithful did not have the weapons to crack the city open. The Council used the long months of deadlock to fortify the city – as much as they could in a huge settlement which was originally not surrounded by walls. The real defence line was not this outpost in the very outskirts of Belandon. The armour division was waiting a kilometre behind them, ready to move in and fortify any position which was attacked. This was a tactic that enabled the somewhat undermanned faithful to repel a number of attacks on the capital, which made this particular incident all the more humiliating. The corporal could only pray to the true powers of the Warp that the attackers be stopped within the first buffer zone.

After all, there were only four of them, weren’t there?

The driver of the leading Land Raider was called Miklas, and he was an almost normal human being. He was a warrior-serf attached directly to Fatemaker squad 4.3 (currently known as squad Andorias), and had been one for seventeen years. He served the squad when it was called Hesphor, Bhoor-Tulkas and even had the honour to know it as squad Tuone, led by an almost mystical figure who had started his service in one of the Original Chapters. Miklas was somewhat augmented: his eyes, his right hand and even a small part of his brain were replaced by Adeptus Mechanicus technology to make him faster and more accurate. This was not a reward or compensation for some serious injury, merely a necessary procedure to make him equal to the other occupants of the vehicle at least in his own narrow field of expertise.

‘T minus sixty seconds to engagement,’ he told to the giant behind him. The other – a sergeant to those who were familiar with Astartes markings – grunted.

‘Disembarking in ten seconds.’

Miklas did not need any more instructions. Although a mere mortal, he was part of the tactical briefings with the rest of the human serf-crew. The Fatemakers, in their great wisdom, did not tie up full-fledged battle-brothers in the driver seats of their vehicles: instead, they used the contingent of mortal assistants bound by feudal oaths to their chapter to fulfil all the roles which were not directly related to power armour warfare. The drivers, and Thunderhawk pilots (the chapter did not possess speeders and the few bikes they had were attached to Strike Force Six, not Four) were all mortals to the last man, yet they had their masters’ full trust. Miklas’s experience in his own field was so great that sometimes even veteran Space Marines listened to his voice, and the countless campaigns he fought with them taught him all the battle-awareness and tactical knowledge to play his role properly.

The four Land Raiders screeched to a halt on the side of an empty street just before it bisected a much larger road. Intelligence report claimed the road lay within the primary action radius of the enemy armour, which means the attacking Astartes would not have a chance to break through there even if they could catch the defenders by surprise. Barely did the Land Raiders stop than the front hatches opened and disgorged four squads of rock-crete grey armoured Space Marines. Miklas only had to wait 3 seconds to receive the ‘Go!’-orders from the sergeant, which applied to the drivers as much as it did to the superhuman Astartes. The Land Raiders accelerated and dashed into the intersection to meet the enemy head on.

Miklas grinned as he wasted a fraction of a second to check the status of the Astartes squads and he found none of them on his display. His masters did their job as flawlessly as they always had. His personal oath to the squad, this engagement and the Chapter in general left him no choice but to follow their examples.

The enemy was approaching fast. At least five tanks arrived in the first wave, followed by a pair of light APCs with auxiliary soldiers. The first flaw in the enemy’s plan became painfully obvious at once: in order to remain mobile, they had to abandon the textbook tactics of steady approach with full and continuous infantry cover.

The first Land Raider’s lascannons whined once, and the leading tank’s turret split open with a loud BAANG. The vehicle swerved, and then stopped altogether. Miklas knew right away that it was as good as dead, so he turned his attention to the second enemy in line that fired its main gun as it moved forward and hit Miklas’s vehicle in the middle of the now closed ramp. The round flattened harmlessly against the surface of the ramp, which was no surprise seeing as how it was designed to withstand continuous artillery barrages if the situation so required. The second flaw of the enemy tactics revealed itself: you cannot outclass Space Marine equipment.

The first APC exploded and threw its passengers into the air as the hurricane bolters of the specialist Land Raider tore into it. The road was now partially blocked by the debris, which meant the enemy would probably start using their brain and redirect some of the tanks into a parallel street to go round and encircle the four Astartes vehicles. They certainly had the numbers for it: the remaining vehicles of the forward group stopped and started shelling, the soldiers jumped off the other APC and started to set up their heavy weapons, while the rest of the attack group slowed down and apparently started to turn at the first available crossroads. Outclassed or not, the Land Raiders would die once surrounded, unless…

The first rocket hit the APC on the side, and the explosion tore apart the infantry who were trying to use it as a cover. The leading tank of the encircling column received a similar blast aimed right at its tracks, which caused it to become completely immobilized. The column was suddenly attacked from two of the intersecting streets as well: a couple of Space Marines appeared at the extreme back where the tanks tried to go off the road and encircle the Land Raiders, while other figures started to rake the last few vehicles of the frontal group with bolter and plasma fire. Miklas ordered his four Land Raiders forward to finish the job: bottle the tanks in so they lost manoeuvrability and become easy prey for the melta bombs of the Astartes infantry. The Space Marines were more than capable of killing enemy armour on their own too, provided they get some time and a suitable distraction to set up the trap. This time, the distraction was provided by Astartes tanks driven by human warrior-serfs.

Third mistake, perhaps the biggest: in a Space Marine army, it is always the Space Marines who do the big killing.
Last edited by Meaneye on Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:34 pm, edited 59 times in total.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Gaius Marius » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:04 pm

very nice mean eye
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Gaius Marius
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:33 pm

Thank you, Gaius Marius :)

Here comes the second part: still just some general Space Marine show-off.

Part 2

Andorias heard the sound of battle behind him, but blocked it out. He and his three remaining squads had other tasks than merely knocking out a small section of the forward enemy defence line. The real target of this phase was the enemy compound that launched the vehicles. Now that the armour had moved out to meet the enemy, the forces who were still there were manageable even for infantry Astartes. The squads ran through streets parallel with the main road; they did not have to worry about civilians seeing them as the Council had them all relocated when the buffer zone was created around Belandon. Their power-armoured bodies could keep up a murderous pace which no other human would have been able to imitate. The enemy was aware that Astartes tanks already penetrated the first defence line, but they also knew that their armour had met them – although not with the results they had originally expected. The compound would be, of course, heavily defended, but the element of surprise would be enough for them to break in. The enemy would not survive a pitched battle with the Fatemakers.

There it was! A U-shaped block of flats with its originally unblocked end closed with metal walls and a two-winged gate. The gate was already closed, and the wall itself was obviously guarded, but it did not matter. All that was needed was the few precious seconds it took for the defenders to realize they were being attacked and that the few grey-armoured figures were actually a threat to them.


The top of the defensive wall suddenly got peppered by explosive bolter rounds. The first salvo from Andorias’s squad swept the wall clean of defenders, while the other two squads aimed at the two buildings on the two sides. The windows there provided excellent cover for heavy weapon teams and snipers, but the buildings themselves were the usual pre-fabricated STC-designed habitats. This meant that they were structurally weak, which in turn meant that the bolters of squad 4.2 and 4.4 (Gorski and Hemethor) did not only vaporised the outer walls but also any man crouching behind them. The Space Marines could make the last few meters virtually unopposed to the gate, where the leading Astartes pointed his plasma-gun at the crevice between the two wings and pulled the trigger.

The gate to the compound went apart with a hissing noise: the plasma beam did not only bisect the metal diagonally, but also cut apart the team of defenders who had tried to use it as cover. The Astartes poured into the compound, which was basically a long courtyard with the back of it covered by a cheap slate roof. Apart from the dead soldiers at the gate, the only interesting features were the two gun emplacements at the opposite walls of the courtyard: two rotating chassis securely fixed on the ground, aiming two pairs of autocannons into the sky.

The main targets of Phase Two. For the next phase to succeed, all challenge to air superiority had to disappear from the area.

Although the Fatemaker squads effectively dominated the courtyard, they were not necessarily occupying it too. The high buildings which surrounded the courtyard sported just as many windows on the inside as on the outside, and they even had a set of balconies and outer staircases. Even for three squads of Space Marines, it would have taken quite a while to physically find and kill all the soldiers around them; of course, this was not their intention in the first place. The sporadic lasgun fire did not do much to slow down the Space Marines, who quickly moved around the Hydra platforms and started to take them apart.

Andorias switched to single shots and began to hunt down any soldier who was foolish enough to reveal himself at the right side wall; his chainsword in his other hand was at this stage only a piece of useless metal. He cast a quick glance on his tactical display and saw one of his men – Fenton by the looks of it – jumping behind one of the Hydra platforms. A few enemy soldiers were still crouching there, trying to form some sort of a repelling fire curtain. Their effort was so obviously ridiculous that e did not even waste time killing them properly: he merely swatted one of them away with his bolt pistol (probably breaking the poor man’s collarbone in the process), then kicked and smashed the femur of a second one. The rest of the rebels jumped away from the Hydra, only to be cut down by bolter fire from the rest of squad 4.3. Fenton then jumped up on the platform and attached a melta bomb to it.

The next moment, the world seemed to blow up around him. The sounds of lasguns and bolter shots were suppressed by the activation of a much, much stronger weapon. The rounds arrived from the area shadowed by the slate roof, and hit Fenton right in the middle of his chest. The Space Marine was blasted from the platform, and fell, spinning, on the ground; most of him impacted behind the Hydra, while parts of his armour and his left arm flew in other directions. The platform, which was already damaged by the incoming fire, exploded a moment later as Fenton’s melta bomb activated and roasted the explosive shells in the weapon tubes.

The Fatemakers did not stop on their tracks: they merely altered their course and turned towards this new threat with fluid movements. Squad 4.2 moved behind the other Hydra platform (pumping rounds into it all the while to make sure it got destroyed for good), while the other two squads fanned out and ran towards the shadows. The burst of rounds which injured Fenton – an Astartes was supposed to survive even more serious wounds than this – were autocannon shells, much like the ones the platforms could have launched. Fast-cycling, synchronised autocannons just like the ones on the platform, only mobile; after all, there is no point in placing another immobile platform under a roof where it could not aim at the sky…

There they were. Two Hydra mobile anti-aircraft vehicles rumbled forward to meet the Fatemakers: 8 autocannons mounted on the traditional Chimera chassis spat explosive shells at the Space Marine squads. The Hydras were the Imperium’s best answer to enemy airplanes, and with their impossible rate of fire, also proved to be an excellent anti-infantry choice. Two of these machines could stop the attack of several human companies, and they even represented a viable threat for Astartes armour. If you knew how to use them, you could very well dominate a section of a cityfight-style engagement with a pair of Hydras.

Whoever were driving these tanks, however, were idiots. The Hydras, more so than some other tanks in the Imperial Guard, had absolutely nothing to do with close combat. A Leman Russ could afford to wade into an enemy formation with its thick hull and anti-infantry weaponry; a Hydra, however, excelled at a distance where it could chew up the engaging force before they even had a chance to retaliate. By actually coming closer, the drivers wasted even that little advantage they originally had.

The world slowed down for Andorias. Actually, it was the other way round: the squad leader’s superhuman body pumped his system full of such a high level of adrenalin that his armoured figure became a somewhat blurred shape for the naked eye. The two Hydras could, in theory target even such fast-moving objects, but not at extreme close distance. The sergeant reached the left Hydra with three leaps, the third putting him on top of the vehicle. Andorias activated his chainsword and struck the top hatch with it. In about three seconds he cut through most of it, then pushed his right hand into the gap between the hatch and the armoured top plate and heaved. The hatch came right off, and the sergeant jumped off the Hydra right away: he landed at the same time the than the piece of metal he had just cut off.

The interior of the Hydra blew up two more seconds later, almost simultaneously with the other one. Andorias and another man from squad 4.4 threw enough grenades into them to kill the whole crew and ruin the vehicles themselves. While squad 4.2 remained behind the platform and continued to kill the last few soldiers around the walls and balconies with single shots, the other two squads ran into the roofed back of the courtyard.

The next two minutes were dominated by the sporadic bolter shots of squad 4.2 and the occasional dying scream of the rebel defenders: this underlying rhythm was punctuated by the sound of explosions coming from under the roof. At the end of the second minute, a deadly silence set in. The vox network of the Fatemaker squads came alive for the first time since they had entered the compound. A series of ‘Clear!’-shouts later Andorias activated his own vox and relayed a message on the Chapter’s general frequency.

‘Phase Two complete. Repeat, Phase Two complete’

The answer came after a few seconds of static noise, during which time one Astartes from squad 4.2 fired his bolter: another rebel on the third floor died a now completely insignificant death. Andorias registered the voice of his squad-serf, Miklas, without any emotion.

‘Phase One completed in estimated 3 minutes. Repeat, Phase One complete in 3 minutes.’

A third voice cut in: a quiet, yet powerful one. Although Andorias and his men did not react to Miklas’s voice, their posture suddenly changed: they stood straighter and gripped their bolters stronger, as if the owner of the voice could have actually seen them.

‘Acknowledged, Phase One and Two. Phase Three begin immediately. Repeat, prepare for Phase Three.’

‘Acknowledged, Phase One and Two. Phase Three begin immediately. Repeat, prepare for Phase Three.’

The officers in the small bunker cast long, nervous looks at one another. The headquarters of the Novgarrod III Planetary Defence Force were located just outside Belandon, the planetary capital. A clueless observer may not have seen anything remarkable in the room: just one of the million military compounds scattered across the thousand warzones of the Imperium, but the differences became obvious as soon as an insider looked at the uniforms of those present. There were only infantry officers present in the Novgarrod III PDF Headquarters: not one armour commander, no aircraft officers, certainly no fleet captains. The loyalist forces of the Novgarrod civil war had been forced to play the underdog from the very outset.

The Chaos incursion which took the planetary capital was at the same time brilliant and foolish, just like most things with Chaos. The first phase was about the usual underhand treachery: by concentrating all the available tank regiments around the capital using a false planetary alert as a ruse, the Belandon ruling caste was able to effectively usurp all PDF armour; they converted those commanders they could and murdered the rest. Their gain was actually not that significant as Novgarrod was not a rich, populous industrial world. It was a more or less self-sustaining world with a few larger population centres scattered across the globe, a decent-sized farming society and a spaceport-capital which received all the trade with the neighbouring systems. The local military was never intended to wage lasting wars; the depletion of their forces was nothing short of a catastrophe. The remaining PDF was panicking along with the civilian population for quite a while: everybody was expecting an all-out invasion which would destroy the powerless loyalists in no time. Yet no such attack came, and by now, the PDF command had managed to find out why. The Chaos cultists completely neglected to infiltrate any other part of the planet. The PDF managed to surround the capital, and they repelled all attempts to break out, but the leaders were hesitant to enter the city with only inexperienced infantry. The planet never boasted any significant air-force, and an all-out attack against the well-defended city would have ended in slaughter.

It was a miserable situation, which still had to be solved as soon as possible. The capital spaceport was the only connection with the rest of the Imperium, and the missing trade had already made its presence felt. The opposing forces were too evenly balanced: they would have been able to destroy each other, but this would have crippled the whole planet as well. The PDF petitioned for outside help, but no answer came because, quite frankly, the planet was not significant. Live or die, it mattered not in the grand scheme of things. Naturally, the locals did not feel that way. They were trapped, and they feared the worst for their planet, their home.

This is why they were relieved almost to the point of hysteria when a Space Marine battleship arrived at the system and offered help to the loyalists. This planet has never seen any Space Marines – they were a rare breed in the Malachias Sector – but, of course, everyone heard of their exploits and their connection to the fabled Emperor. The PDF leaders had originally imagined a glorious battle where their forces would be led by superhuman Astartes champions: this experience would be the stuff of legend, the kind that people would remember even centuries later.

The actual experience was, well… different.

The PDF officers were sitting alone in the command room; the only sign of Astartes presence was the vox-set which the human serfs of the Space Marine strike force (Fatemaker Strike Force Four as they were graciously informed) had brought down from their ship. They had not even seen the mysterious Fatemakers in person, only their ship on orbit, and the serfs; from the moment they had installed the vox-set, all instructions had come from the calm-voiced brother-captain called Malistrum. The captain had not made a conference or any meeting. He had merely asked for all available data about the conflict and the capital, and two days later, he had presented a six-phased plan of attack to the PDF.

That had been five days earlier. The plan was actually impressive, and it might have worked on paper, although there were too many variables in it, and it was too ambitious. Did the captain really manage to achieve so much with so meagre forces? Granted, this was exactly the kind of thing that the Astartes were supposed to be able to do, but still… it did definitely not sit too well with the loyalist command that they were almost entirely left out of the plan.

One of the loyalist officers – the one with enough stripes to feel he was entitled to talk to the brother-captain – cleared his throat and leaned forward to the vox. The Fatemaker serf standing next to it politely pushed the sending button for him.

‘Brother-Captain?’ said the officer. ‘Are you sure you are not going to need any help in the next phases?’

‘I believe we have already discussed this, commander,’ came the answer. ‘Your forces are to prepare for Phase Six. Until then, you will have no part to play in this engagement.’

The general looked at his peers with a miserable face, then turned back to the vox.

‘I simply don’t see how your forces can achieve… what you are planning. Allow us to send reinforcements with you. We have the power to offer support. Our veteran…’

‘You do not have veteran forces, commander,’ the captain interrupted. ‘You men are not able to support us properly; in fact, they would only hold us back.’

Another general in the room hissed disapprovingly. His forces had been known to be the most hard-pressed to quarantine the capital, and he had seen too many of his soldiers die to ignore this remark.

‘It seems to me that you don’t trust us at all, brother-captain.’ He made sure to emphasise the last term just enough to make it into an insult. ‘If you do not think that we mere mortals are unworthy, why did you decide to help us?’

The brother-captain did not show any sign that he understood the insult.

‘I do not think you are unworthy, and I do not look down on you, general. I only deal in facts, and one fact is that your forces are not sufficient for this job. If they were, you would not need us, yet, were are here, and you did not say no to our offer. You signed the naklonjenost, and you agreed to our terms. You have absolutely no reason to be disappointed with the situation.’

‘This is outrageous!’ whispered another officer to his peers at the back. ‘We should really just sit back and wait for others to do our job?’

‘Neither am I doing anyone else’s job.’ Space Marine or not, the captain’s calm but firm manner was really annoying. ‘Phase One and Two would have cost you approximately two days and the better part of a whole regiment. Your forces would be already contained, and the counter-attack would have repelled you from the city. You men would have died for nothing.’

Most officers were grinding their teeth by now, but the voice continued.

‘Again, and for the last time: we are here to help you, and we are here because we have the means for this operation, and you do not. The planet would be doomed without us, but we will not be the ones who will save it – that task will remain your duty. Let us help you, and your reward will be your world.’ The voice paused for a moment. ‘Phase Three is underway, gentlemen. Prepare your forces for Phase Six, and wait for our instructions. Malistrum out.’

The vox went quiet. The officer cadre exchanged dark looks. They were angry and nervous at the same time, as any powerful men would have been if somebody had started to play the only game they knew and then left them out of it completely. The general who spoke first looked at the Fatemaker serf (he looked back, but said nothing; he and his peers were probably all mute), the grimaced, and said, ‘prepare for Phase Six’.

There was some murmur among the other officers, but finally, they all went out to the next room where the PDF vox units had been installed. The general watched them as they were leaving, then turned back: only to find the Fatemaker serf looking at him with his calm, unreadable eyes.

The general shivered and followed the others. This was not the first time that he had had second thoughts about accepting the Fatemakers’ help.
Last edited by Meaneye on Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:55 pm

It is time for another update; some new characters are introduced in this one.

Part 3

The unlucky rebel corporal who had been so unceremoniously swept away by the Land Raiders at the first outpost had by now managed to rally most of his men together, and they were all crouching behind their sandbags and rubble piles. The enemy tanks were inside the city now, and the reports said that that they had engaged the Belandon tanks. There had also been some garbled transmission about a firefight at the sector compound, but that particular area was all silent now which could only mean that the attackers had been defeated there. The corporal smiled. If this was the big enemy attack, the righteous had nothing to be afraid of. With any luck, he himself would not be punished for his initial failure after such a resounding victory…

The corporal frowned. There was a new sound coming from the plains, and this was no armour either. The corporal barked an order and saw with a satisfied look that his men reacted much faster this time than half an hour earlier…

When those bloody tanks rolled over you like you were just dirt.

Shut up and concentrate! The corporal murmured something obscene under his breath. The plains around the city outskirts were dotted with small hab buildings. This was how the grey-coloured tanks had managed to get so close to them, although that memory was so reeking with incompetence from his part that he rather not thought about it. Where are they? Where are…

Oh, no.

The oncoming vehicles were indeed no tanks. They looked more like some sort of skimmers: approaching at low altitude, almost hugging the ground, zigzagging between the hab-units. The corporal had seen skimmers before, although they were small and these were…

A lot bigger.

Oh, hell.

The oncoming enemy force consisted of two Aquila Landers and four Thunderhawks in a loose formation, heading towards the outpost at breakneck speed. Grey-armoured and deadly, the Thunderhawks‘ wings were bristling with guns and rockets. The six planes disappeared behind a hab block, the emerged again. Their speed was astounding.

‘Prepare to fire!’ yelled the corporal. His team had a rocket launcher and two heavy stubbers, which were, quite frankly, almost useless against these machines. Especially at this range. If they come a little closer, they will open up on them, and…

And what? You will shoot all six of them down?

Shut up! The corporal was really nervous now. The six planes hopped up from behind another set of buildings. They were still not in range, but the Thunderhawks did obviously not think that way. The plane on the right released one of its wing rockets, then all six of them went down again. Only the rocket was streaking towards the outpost, leaving a black tail of smoke behind it. The corporal’s eyes opened wide.

‘Take cover!’ he yelled again. The rocket smashed into the middle of the outpost defences and threw a large chunk of it and some of the men up into the air with a deafening roar. The corporal was hurled on the same pile of rubble he had jumped behind half an hour earlier. Half deaf and dazed, he could only watch as the six planes went over the head of his remaining men and left them behind just as contemptuously as the Land Raiders. The corporal slowly raised his head and watched the six planes dash away into the direction of the city, then groaned and dropped his head back to the ground.

His day had been awful so far, and he had the feeling it would only get worse.

The six planes went right for the smashed remains of the anti-aircraft compound. They avoided the main road where the four Land Raiders and the Fatemaker squad was busy hunting down the last few stragglers from the enemy tank company. The compound itself had by now been cleaned of any enemy presence: two of the squads were standing outside the compound, while the third remained in the court, mindful of any possible survivors. Apart from the engines of the planes, everything seemed to be quiet; like a moment of tension-filled silence in the middle of a storm.

Two of the Thunderhawks landed and picked up squads 4.3 and 4.2. Andorias was the last one to board: he waited until Gorski and his squad disappeared in the belly of the other machine, and as he saw that Hemethor’s Space Marines were also leaving the compound, he jumped up into his plane and closed the door behind him.

‘Phase Three ready to go,’ he voxed. The answer came right away.

‘Understood. Phase Three starting now. Andorias has command. Repeat, Andorias has command.’

Andorias turned to the transport compartment and looked at his eight remaining men. They were not the only occupants of the Thunderhawk: there were five other figures at the back. Three of them were chapter-serfs who were already busy preparing his men for the next phase. The human serfs were not looked down on in the chapter; however, Andorias did not even spare one look for them. His attention was fixed on the pair of bigger figures.

They were Space Marines, just like squad 4.3, but still different. The rock-crete grey armour of the first Astartes was a more ancient design then those of the other Marines (the infamous “Heresy”-variant), but even further modified with a high metal breastplate collar. The collar reached behind and above the studded helmet, with five pulsing cables connecting the two. Strange and exotic devices were incorporated into the hood-like collar: psychic amplifiers, small boxes with even smaller winking lights and silver runes which provided extra protection from the denizens of the Warp. He was also holding an ornate staff with a rune-carved crystal at the end, which was literally vibrating with power. Even in a small room full of superhuman soldiers, this one stood out.

The other’s armour was red, except for the left shoulder-guard, which was still the usual grey with the chapter-symbol etched on: a full circle broken by a short line on the left side, forming a mirrored ‘Q’-letter. A Techmarine, no less: one of the privileged few who could pay a visit to the legendary Solar System and receive their training from the tech-priests of Mars. The Techmarine-s power pack was modified to house a servo-arm and a pair of mechadendrites which were slowly moving around his waist, as if they had a life of their own. He was also holding his staff of office: a halberd-like power weapon with its blade actually forming a huge half-cog.

Andorias bowed his head.

‘Librarian Akichi? Techmarine Guztav?’

The other two nodded.

‘Sergeant Andorias?’ The Librarian was already prepared for the next phase. He was wearing a set of jump-pack on his back, which made his body even bulkier than usual. The serfs were busy attaching jump-packs onto the other Marines. Not even their sergeant could say how much grief-stricken squad 4.3 became after they had lost Fenton, and it was good that way. The Fatemakers were not supposed to mourn, even one another. There was never time for it.

‘Will Fenton survive?’ asked the Librarian. Andorias shook his head.

‘No,’ he replied curtly. A serf approached him with his jump-pack, and he turned slightly so he could reach his back. ‘Is there anything I should know before we continue?’

‘Not for this operation.’ The sergeant raised his head slightly. Was the Librarian trying to tell him something?


‘Nothing.’ The other Astartes seemed to shake his head a little, but the sergeant could not make sure. Andorias looked at him for another second, then activated his vox, and called the Thunderhawk cockpit.

‘Put me on the general channel.’

‘Understood, Brother-Sergeant,’ came the answer with a clicking sound.

‘Scout Team One report you location,’ ordered the sergeant. There came several seconds of silence, which was broken by a series of clicks and beeps. Andorias looked at the Guztav.


‘I received the signals,’ came the answer. ‘I have got the coordinates.’

‘Then move us out,’ ordered the sergeant.

‘Acknowledged.’ The six planes rose above the buildings, and headed for the city centre. Squad 4.4 watched them as they left, then at their sergeant’s signal, they galloped away to join the Land Raiders and their brothers from squad 4.8.

The Fatemaker airforce flew for four or five minutes into the city. Time was essential, so they had to make the first real risk of the operation and made themselves partially vulnerable. The risk was not big, of course: the reports of the loyalist forces showed that the rebels concentrated their vehicle- and platform-mounted AA-weapons in several defensive circles, leaving virtually empty no man’s lands between two lines. The Fatemakers had just broken through the outermost line, and were now flying in the first empty zone: any resistance they could expect was probably man-portable weaponry, which was not very effective against fast aircraft. A well disciplined army could and would have planted weapon teams on the rooftops as well, but the undermanned and inexperienced rebels had probably not counted on this form of attack, especially because the loyalist forces did not possess the means for such a manoeuvre. This did not mean, however, that the cultists were idiots: they had probably intercepted the scouts’ message, and even without understanding the codes, they could have sent out a team to eliminate them. For this reason, the planes had to hurry.

Sergeant Andorias activated his vox again.

‘One minute from your position, Scout Team One’

The answer came crystal clear.

‘Four-storey building, flat red rooftop.’

The sergeant looked forward towards the cockpit.


‘I’ve got them, Brother-Sergeant.’

The Thunderhawk made a turn towards the flat rooftop. It had no intention to land, only to hover so it could pick up the two Space Marine scouts who were waiting there. The rooftop was an ideal place for an ambush, but the sergeant had enough faith in the abilities of the scouts to know that whatever enemy presence was in the building, they had already dealt with it all.

A Fatemaker only trusted other members of the Chapter, but they did so unconditionally.

The door of the hovering Thunderhawk opened, and two scouts entered the compartment, which was becoming really crowded at this point. The sergeant caught a glimpse of the roof, and saw, without surprise, bodies lying around in their own blood. His Fatemaker brothers did not let the Chapter down.

‘Is the area secure?’ ’ asked Librarian Akichi.

‘Yes, Brother-Librarian’ one of the scouts answered. Akichi removed the gauntlet from his right hand.

‘Have you got the report?

‘We do, Brother-Librarian,’

‘Show me.’

The other five planes started to circle around the Thunderhawk of squad 4.3. This was a critical moment, and any disturbance would have possibly been catastrophic, to say the least. The scouts had assured their brothers, however, that the area was secure, and this was enough.

Akichi touched the forehead of the scout, closed his eyes and stiffened – as did all other Space Marines in all the aircraft. The air became marginally cooler in the passenger compartments as the Astartes Librarian turned to his psychic powers. Pictures of the city and of people started to appear in the head of the Space Marines: objectives and living targets which the small reconnaissance team managed to scout in the past four days. Numbers appeared next to the faces, and tactical data flew directly into the brain of the Marines.

Some chapters just did not realize the potential of their Librarians as they should have. Akichi opened his eyes.


Techmarine Guztav was already working on a data-slate.

‘Relaying information to the pilots… done. Pilots, did you receive?’

The voxline buzzed with six affirmative ‘Yes’ answers. Andorias nodded.


The six aircraft dived under the roofline of the buildings. The final objective lay behind two more defensive lines with all the mobile and fixed AA-weaponry and artillery which a moderately-developed industry could amass. They were as perfect as possible, and they could have seriously decimate any infantry-based attack force – in fact, the attackers could not even have penetrated the first line – but the lines were not designed by military tacticians. There were holes in the network: blind spots on the ground, at mid-level or even above the buildings. The scouts had managed to get through, and two of them had even made the same journey back. The Thunderhawks were following the route the scout reports had presented to them, and they managed to get through without so much as a scratch. Small-arms fire was following them wherever they went, and once they had to evade a missile shot from a portable rocket launcher, but nothing the rebels possessed managed to even slow them down a bit. This was the part where the frustratingly long four days of preparation paid off: the final objective was within reach of the six Fatemaker engines.

There was a downside of this tactic, of course. By now, the whole city had been alerted to their presence, and there was no way the rebels did not prepare for them at the final destination.

The safety the chapter in this phase would be paid with Fatemaker blood in the next one.

General Dorian, the distinguished member of the Council of the Righteous, the only PDF-general whom the Council had actually managed to convert, arrived at the central Belandon headquarters in a foul mood. There had been reports of a previously unknown force breaking through the outskirts defence lines, and, if the sporadic transmissions from the inner defences were true, were heading towards his position. Everyone: everyone, from his adjutants to the planetary governor, was quite confused and clueless. Well, everyone but him.

The mysterious strike force was of course a group of Astartes. More precisely, Fatemaker Space Marines. What kind of other Astartes force would be even remotely interested in this backwater planet? Dorian considered himself a patriot, and he was also a devoted follower of the teachings of the Council, but he did not have illusions about the worth of his homeworld. Why the strike cruiser was in the system in the first place was a mystery.

Of course, they would not make a big difference anyway.

The general opened the door to the observation level, and stepped in. The people inside turned their head at his arrival. The lower-ranking officers wisely avoided eye contact and went about their business. The other two people in the room were not so wary.

‘I do hope you have a good explanation for this, general!’ cried the planetary governor. He was a balding, medium-height man of no discernible features whatsoever. A tool, in the general’s opinion. Even when he was a loyal Imperial governor, he was an incompetent fool with a relatively decent set of advisors. The general had to play by the rules and pay lip service to him, but he was intelligent enough to see the true power behind him.

The new – and currently the only – advisor of the governor was an off-worlder, and a strange one too. He was tall and lean, with grey, piercing eyes. Ever since the insurrection, he had adorned his face with strange runes, as if to indicate that he had no longer reason to hide his true allegiance. He was the real driving force behind the movement, so it was no wonder the general addressed his report directly to him.

‘Space Marines,’ he started without preamble. The governor may have wanted a full explanation, but for his advisor, this was enough. ‘They are to be here in less than four minutes. We will be able to handle them, but I still advise you to return to the inner chamber.’

The governor‘s eyes bulged. He was about to burst out into some raging – or panicking – tirade, but the advisor’s calm voice stopped him.

‘I believe we can trust the general in this issue. General, are you sure you are going to repel this attack?’

The general allowed himself a tiny smile.

‘Well… I believe the facts can speak for me, gentlemen.’

All three of them looked through the wall-to-wall reinforced window of the observation level, and smiled involuntarily.

Smile while you can.

Scout-Sergeant Essan was looking at the trio through the scope of his special sniper rifle. The rifle was a special kind of weapon, a somewhat inferior version of the Exitus family used by the Vindicare Imperial assassins. His other three scouts were equipped with similar weapons. The sergeant could not even begin to imagine what favours his Chapter had called upon to get them – the Imperial assassins were not quick to share any of their tools and secrets with outsiders – and it was always a sobering thought for an Astartes to wield weapons which were actually more valuable for the Imperium than him.

In fact, the equipment they had on them was more valuable than the Exitus rifles. In the 42nd millennium, the Imperium lacked the means to produce high technology, which did not mean that it was not able to do so, only that such technology became even rarer than a thousand years earlier. Getting the right equipment meant having connections and uncollected favours, and the Fatemakers had aplenty of those. It was always interesting to think how widely unpopular the Chapter was in the sector, and yet how much access it had to exotic things.

And so Scout-Sergeant Essan and his men were wearing special tailor-made stealth-suits, communication tracking devices and the sergeant even had a rare piece of technology which allowed him to re-programme standard vox units and earpieces to re-modulate voice-waves. Two days ago, the scout team had intercepted the vox messages of a group of rebel observers on the rooftop they were currently crouching on, killed them and had been imitating their voices to send affirmative messages to the enemy headquarters ever since.

These rebels were amateurs. The sergeant had fought against dangerous Chaos insurgents, alien races, a lot of Orks, and on one occasion, he even stalked a Dark Eldar warrior (arguably, it cost him two of his scouts, but still), and he could say right away that these rebels did simply not cut it. This war had been a stalemate before the arrival of the Fatemakers, but this was hardly unprecedented in the Imperium. What was special in this world?

Although he had to admit that cracking this particular nut was worthy of their expertise.

The enemy headquarters was a Behemoth-pattern orbital cannon: a huge and ugly metal orb sank into the ground. The cannon itself was ridiculously big, and it jutted right out of the orb, pointing into the sky. Essan had seen this type in an earlier campaign before; the Imperial Guard soldiers made a lot of gender-based jokes about it, which he never really managed to understand, but at least he could truly appreciate the danger it represented. The cannon was not the strongest in its class – Strike Force Cruiser Four could certainly make a greater damage with its own weapons – but its rate of fire was surprisingly fast, and its range was long. Its presence made any operation which involved the Astartes cruiser dangerous, and of all the assets the Chapter had, the ships were the hardest to replace or repair. Although an old-fashioned drop-pod attack could have made short work of the enemy high command, the Fatemakers were now forced to penetrate the city defences with a combined attack of armour, infantry and aircraft.

The orbital cannon was dangerous for aircraft too. The city acted as a natural shield between the cannon and enemy land forces (a fact which was a prime example of Imperial mindset), and the cannon itself was the best protection against spacecraft. As for enemy planes, the orb section had rows upon rows of Hydra installations – installations which were already alert for the intruding force.

Six planes were simply not enough to make it through the flak fire that these weapons could unleash. They would be shredded before even making halfway through the empty space between the last covering buildings and the cannon. Not even the scouts could get to the base of the orb. It was impossible even with a team as equipped as they were. However, their special Exitus rifles had the reach to make a difference in this engagement even from their rooftop.

That was why Essen and his men were there. That was why they had the priceless equipment and weapons. They had Hydra crew to kill: in order to make a blind spot suitably big for the Fatemakers to go through unharmed, the scouts had to snipe the crew of no less than forty Hydra installations.

That was an impossible task, even for Astartes scouts; and this was the only reason why Essan did not listen to his predatory instincts and shot at the three rebel leaders behind the observation windows at the top level. His duty towards the Chapter overwrote all other considerations.

That, and for the fact that not even the Exitus rifles could have penetrated the reinforced glass.

The sergeant’s vox buzzed.

‘Three minutes until engagement’.

This was the sign. The sergeant moved his weapon to the first target, and exhaled.

‘Go,’ he said.

The head of the man in the control seat of the topmost Hydra exploded. Essen aimed slightly to the left, where the other weapons were standing. Each installation had four crewmembers, and they all had to die if the scouts wanted to make sure the weapon remained silent. The three rebels were not supposed to move for at lest a second after the weapon handler had died: it was part of human nature to freeze at this kind of shock. The cross-target of the Exitus zeroed on the second man. He died just as quick as the first soldier, and Essen was good enough to move immediately to the third man.

The fourth man tried to duck just as his last remaining mate was thrown back by the blast. The sergeant did not have time to curse: he had to make an off-hand shot, which still managed to catch his target. The Chapter did not have a better sniper than him, but even he had to lose precious fractions of a second to aim at another Hydra and start killing its crew. The Marines were fast enough and the Hydras were far enough from one another not to raise a general alarm with all the killings, but there were too many of them. The scouts managed to silence the crew of ten installations in the first minute.

Not good enough.

The other two scouts in the team were just what they were: Space Marines in training, who were not yet ready to receive their own power armour. They were war veterans and extremely lethal compared to human soldiers, but this mission required punishing standards even for superhumans. Essen had to take some of the burden off his men, and so he had to push himself to higher levels of expertise.

Twenty disabled Hydras by the end of the second minute.

Still not good enough.

Essen stopped aiming. He relied on his battle-instincts honed by seventy years of continuous warfare. He shot and shot: the crewmen of the last few remaining Hydras fell so fast, the first victim did not even have time to touch the ground before the last one died. Even reloading took only a few seconds. Fatemaker lives depended on how he handled this. Only a few more…

Time’s up.

The six planes darted forward from behind the building of the three scouts.

There were still five Hydras left to greet them.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Gaius Marius » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:17 pm

very nice writing Meaneye.
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:13 pm

And thank you again :D

Next part is shown below: one last part to go, and Chapter one is finished, with all the major characters and the Fatemaker chapter in general introduced.

Part Four

The tall buildings in the city provided decent cover for agile aircraft like the Fatemaker planes, but the original designers of the city defenders wisely decided that there should be no cover around the orbital cannon. Forty Hydra installations would have destroyed the Astartes team right away. Five Hydras left on different parts of the cannon on the same side could not release a deadly blanket of repellent fire. Yet, they had four pieces of autocannon-strength tubes apiece with an incredible rate of fire and automatic guidance systems. The six planes did not have a chance.

The leading two Aquilas exploded in spectacular flaming balls. The four Thunderhawks did not hesitate to return fire with their own missiles. Four of the five Hydras died scant seconds after making their own kill.

The weapon handler of the last Hydra was frantic to get a lock on one of the Thunderhawks before it fired another missile. His hand was already on the firing button when a bullet smashed into his chest and threw him off his seat.

Scout-Sergeant Essen exhaled and lowered his weapon.

‘The Emperor protects,’ he murmured.

General Dorian snarled. What happened with his flak guns? Two hits only? What was going on here?

He span at his heels and barked at one of his subordinates.

‘Send more people to protect the governor!’ he yelled. ‘And reinforce the fireteams on the corridors!’

‘Sir!’ cried his adjutant. The general turned back…

…only to face a Thunderhawk hovering a mere ten meters from the window.

Sergeant Essen was watching through his scope impassively as the Thunderhawk opened fire with its cannons and obliterated the whole observation level.

‘Targets 3 and 7 eliminated,’ he voxed.

‘We will pick you up after deployment,’ came the answer.

Essen switched of his vox and sat down cross-legged, his work momentarily done.

‘To hell with you, Andorias,’ he whispered.

Now that forty Hydra batteries had been silenced or burst open, there were plenty of entry points left for the Fatemakers to take. The Hydra entrances , however, all connected into a single corridor on every level, and that one corridor was well guarded.

There was a fireteam with a heavy bolter at the end of the corridor on level 14. The other end of the corridor had a blast door, which was locked by central control. There were means to cut through it, of course, but it would take time, and so the team would be well prepared for any kind of frontal attack.

The team members were elite cultists, so much so that the Council did not even allow them into the general public. Tattoo-faced, Chaos-marked warriors to the last man with the occasional early-stage mutations and stigmas so typical of their kind. They were the ones who devoted themselves to the new cult first, and their willingness to offer their souls to the True Powers was an indicator of their determination. They were prepared for anything that wanted to break through the door.

What they were not prepared for was that the blast door just simply opened.

Techmarine Guztav unplugged the wire from the implant on his head.

‘All outer defences deactivated,’ he said, and absent-mindedly kicked one of the rebel corpses away. The inside of the observation level was a mess, but the Thunderhawk pilot knew his job, and aimed high enough not to destroy the equipment in there.

The thing behind the door was the stuff of nightmares. It was bulky: it filled almost the entire corridor on his own, and it had twice as much armour than a normal Space Marine. Obviously, it was a human, although it was difficult to see with it holding a huge metal shield in one hand and a rotating cannon in the other.

Much to their credit, the Chaos cultists actually tried to fire.

The Hydra installations at the back of the orbital cannon received the alarm and heard the explosions, but the first real sign of trouble came when the doors leading inside the Behemoth opened simultaneously. One of the crew members made an uncertain step towards the door, but he span back when he heard the whining noise.

Andorias slowly hovered above him; the whining noise was actually his jump-pack keeping him in place. The sergeant calmly shot the four men, then activated his vox.

‘Rendezvous at Entrance 25-B on completion,’ he said, then hovered on. His squad had a lot more people to kill.

The Thunderhawks deployed twenty-two Marines into the orbital cannon: ten in Terminator Armour, squad 4.2 under Sergeant Gorski’s command, Techmarine Guztav and Librarian Akichi. With Squad Andorias on the outer hull, approximately one-third of Strike Force Four attacked one single objective. The Chapter could lose a lot if the operation went wrong, but time – the one miserable factor the Chapter never had enough of – was short, and so the attack had to be absolutely overwhelming.

It really was overwhelming. The Terminators were bad enough, but at least they were slow and trackable. The tactical squad was, surprisingly, more dangerous. They brought melta charges normally reserved for spaceship boarding, and cut through the walls at some key locations – avoiding most enemy strongpoints and getting behind most of the rebel forces. The rebels caught in a vice, most of them died without a fighting chance, which was exactly how the Fatemakers liked to wage their wars.

It was loud in the corridors. The noise of almost two dozen bolters filled the inside of the Behemoth, and the quick, bark-like bursts were further punctuated by the screams of the dying. The vox-lines were swamped with the frantic but brief communication of the defenders as they demanded (and, a few minutes into the attack, pleaded for) briefing, reinforcement or just confirmation that there was still some meaningful resistance. The Fatemaker vox-lines were mostly silent. They operated in small groups of three or four, and did not to need to check up on one another. They had to meet at the lower level and crush all opposition before them, and nothing else deserved talking about. The silence was only broken when somebody reported the extermination of some of the primary targets they were briefed on in the psychic message of Librarian Akichi.

‘Target 6 eliminated.’
‘Target 12 eliminated.’
‘Targets 4, 8 and 9 eliminated.’

The rebels were not prepared for this. The subsector – indeed, the whole sector – was not that much used to Astartes warriors, loyalist or traitor, and so the Chaos cultists could not possibly handle three full squads of them. Not only were the Space Marines determined and methodical, not only did they manage to surprise the defenders, but they also possessed a lethal combination of skills and gear. Nothing the cultists had could even slow down the Astartes. They did not have the weapons, and they certainly did not have the numbers for it. In approximately twenty minutes, the Fatemakers killed more than 500 enemy cultists, and slowly fought their way towards the basement section.

The planetary governor was nervously walking up and down in the small chamber at the bottom of the installation. He had every reason to be afraid. The sound off battle was already audible even on the lowest level, and he seriously doubted that that the remaining three squads of his elite bodyguards were capable of holding up the attackers. For the first time since he had accepted his advisor’s offer, he started to doubt whether he had made the right choice.

That cursed advisor! He was sitting on his heels in the corner, listening intently to the sounds of battle. The governor could not even say for sure whether he was afraid or not. His face remained unreadable under the intricate tattoos.

Finally, the governor snapped. He darted in front of the advisor, and looked down on him.

‘Well?’ he snapped. The advisor looked up at him.

‘What are we going to do about these… Space Marines?’ cried the governor. He started to walk up and down again, with the advisor’s eyes now fixed on him. For a man who was the nominal ruler of an entire planet, he was now behaving like a complete coward. The advisor listened to him for a while, then sighed and stood up. The governor stopped.

‘So what now?’ he demanded. ‘What next?’

‘I am afraid there is nothing next,’ answered the advisor. He stretched his neck, and then his arms. The governor looked him as if he had been mad.

‘Nothing next? What do you mean by that?’

‘Well, nothing next for you anyway,’ said the tattoo-faced cultist. The governor could not stop staring.

‘What are you talking about? WHAT THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?’

The advisor grimaced.

‘Oh, just shut up, will you?’

And with this, he shouted. It was a strange shriek, which made a physical ripple in the air as it ran into the governor. The man did not even have time to scream: whatever foul warpcraft the advisor was using, it literally tore off all the cloth and flesh from the governor’s body, then threw what was left of him in the corner.

Librarian Akichi, who had not yet used his powers during the battle, stopped on his heels. The other Astartes in his team looked at him. He opened the general vox-line.

‘Moral threat ahead. Proceed with caution.’

The advisor was now standing alone in the chamber. He was facing the door, waiting for the enemy to come for him. His breathing was slow and regular, almost like a man at peace with himself.

There was some commotion outside. It started with shouting and the hissing voice of lasguns, then came four seconds of bolter barking and death screams. The advisor grimaced slightly. Elite protectors indeed.

There was no more noise from the outside.

Then there was some noise.

The door opened.

The advisor screamed again.

When he had used his powers a minute earlier, it was impressive, but this time, he gave all the power he had into it. A purple-blue wave of energy blasted from his body and darted towards the door. He had used his power against tanks and whole infantry formations before, and the result was always the same. For the first time in the engagement, the Astartes became the underdogs, and they had absolutely nothing to withstand him.

The energy wave roared as it engulfed the door. It was difficult to see what was happening, but the advisor felt that something was not right. He did not stop the screaming, but he could feel a great power opposing him.

There was someone at the door: someone erecting a physical barrier to his energy blast. That somebody was moving forward. There was no living witness to it, but the advisor: he could see his opponent moving inside the surge of dark energy, parting it before himself. As soon as he moved beyond the doorframe, his bulky figure became finally visible. The advisor’s eyes widened.

There was a good reason why Librarian Akichi had not used his powers since the briefing on the rooftop. He managed to surprise Target One, the real mastermind behind the whole insurrection. That he was a psyker had been painfully obvious from the first moment; after all, what other force could turn a large part of the population so neatly without leaving any impact on the rest of the planet? This one was strong too. They had been getting stronger for some centuries now. He had the power to kill every Astartes in the instalment if it had not been for Akichi. This was the most important engagement in the whole mission, and he, only he had the power to withstand the enemy. If he fell, thirty Astartes, a significant portion of Strike Force Four would die, not to mention the fact that the remaining Space Marines would be forced to bomb the whole capital, collapsing the infrastructure and the economy of the world itself.

The tattooed cultist’s voice did not waver. The energy surge got somewhat stronger; the colourful waves engulfed the Librarian, who slowed down, then stopped. Akichi’s helmet covered his face, but he was snarling and frothing behind it. He slowly raised his power staff in front of him, and the waves abated somewhat. He made an insecure step forward. Then another.

The chamber was not big, and it only took a few steps to reach the furthest end of it, but for the Librarian, it seemed like an eternity filled with noise, heat and blinding colours to get there. The advisor continued to scream, which was physically impossible, but this battle had nothing to do with conventional physics anyway. The Librarian felt how weak the veil between reality and warp was in the chamber. It was stranger than anything he had ever felt, and although he had a few tricks up his sleeve, he could not really do a lot against this one except to try and stay on his feet. Even this was no easy task: he stumbled twice in his short and slow journey towards the enemy, and it took every remaining inch of his powers to stop himself from falling on his knees.

It took him six minutes to make fifteen steps, and he only needed to make two more to reach the psyker, when it seemed that he was reaching his limits. The cultist saw this too: he was sweating, the veins were throbbing on his forehead and the warp was physically reeking from every pore of his body, but there was a terrible glimmer of victory in his eyes. He knew that he was stronger than the Librarian.

Akichi was visibly shaking now. He lowered his staff a bit, and it seemed that he could not make the last step towards his enemy. In fact, he seemed to be trying to step back. The cultist grinned. The tattoos on his face came alight with the same purple-blue light as his warp-blast, and he stepped forward to finish the job.

The Librarian’s leg swung and hit the cultist in the groin.

The noise and the light disappeared instantly. There were only the two people in the room: the Librarian who was standing straight now, and the cultist who was lying on the floor in foetal position, heaving and whimpering. Akichi raised his leg, and stomped on the skull of the psyker. With his superhuman strength and his power armour, he did not even crash his skull but also completely obliterated it. There was nothing left of his head: there was a brisk flash under the Librarian’s foot as the warp-tattoos burned out, and then there was finally silence.

The Librarian did not move for three full minutes. He was breathing heavily, but he was firmly fixating the remains of his enemy. He did not say anything. A warp-witch did not deserve his words or the touch of his weapon. He only deserved the heel of his boot.

Finally, he raised his leg from the puddle which used to be the skull of a Chaos sorcerer, and activated his link.

‘Target One eliminated.’ He glanced at the corner where the remains of the governor had been laying; the warp-fight did not leave anything left of him. ‘Oh, and Target Thirty-Five is also dead. No visual confirmation remained.’

‘Understood, Brother-Librarian,’ came the answer. ‘Phase Three completed. Repeat, Phase Three completed.’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Midgard » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:53 pm

I must say I am really enjoying this. For someone who does not have serious writing aspirations, as per your earlier post, you sure do write really well. Please do continue! :)
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:48 pm

I am trying my best, Midgard :D

Time for the next update; with this, the first chapter is concluded and the real 50K stuff can start in earnest. I am not sure about the quantity of the updates, so I may write shorter sections but upload them more often.

Part Five

‘Phase Three completed. Repeat, Phase Three completed.’

Miklas grinned involuntarily, and activated his own vox system.

‘Phase Four is under way. No casualties, enemy contained. Repeat, enemy contained.’

At least for the time being…

Phase Four was really simple: the Fatemakers managed to punch a whole in the outermost defence line of the enemy, and they now had to prevent the cultists from closing it. Four Land Raider variants and two squads of Astartes could do that job quite well, although the number of tanks trying to run them down started to be a little worrying, especially for his own armour.

The four Land Raiders were essentially bottled in. The square that they occupied had only three streets leading into it, which meant there was still one extra reserve tank left; even so, the tanks had almost no room for manoeuvring. At least the buildings were cleaned by the Space Marines. It was brutal and quick, and the screams of dying civilians reminded Miklas that while his masters looked human, they did not really have the same mindset as most mortals did. Then he saw one of the Astartes throw two corpses on the streets from the second floor of the building, and realized what kind of tattoos had been carved into the face of the woman. The sight of those blasphemous marks chilled him to the bone, and cleared his mind of any stray thoughts. It was about time, too, as the enemy attacked shortly thereafter.

The first ten minutes of the engagement was furious, even by Fatemaker standard. The enemy armour attacked from all streets with blazing cannons, supported by a braying pack of infantry support. The Fatemaker weapons opened up on them with equal fury, and after destroying about a dozen vehicles, the three incoming routes were effectively blocked. From that point, it was mostly infantry attack. Waves after waves of infantry tried to force its way through into the square, but the disciplined volleys of the Space Marine bolters broke all of them.

This did not mean, however, that their position could be held indefinitely. Self-propelled artillery had already started to zero on their position, and as the shells started to fall, it was obvious that the trapped Fatemaker tanks would go down in a matter of minutes. The Astartes would fare better, of course, but not even their power armour provided absolute safety against artillery bombing. Just as they managed to keep the enemy out of the square, so could they have locked them in, and any half-decent commander with so much heavy weapon at his disposal would obviously come to the conclusion that carpet bombing the whole area was the safest way to get rid of the invaders. Miklas was not afraid of dying, but he had no wish for it either, and so he gritted his teeth hopelessly as the next wave of enemy soldiers were cut down by his masters.

Then came the voice, the sweetest voice of all. The voice of their Captain.

‘Phase Five begin now; moving into position, repeat, moving into position. Phase Six starting in five minutes.’

Miklas couldn’t help it: he started grinning. He knew the Chapter taught that the enemy deserved nothing, not even emotions from a true servant of the Emperor, but he was a mere human, and by the Emperor! It felt good to be permanently on the winning side; the side of the Imperium. He activated the cameras at the back of his vehicle, and watched, amazed as a dark shadow started to block out the sunshine.

There it was; Strike Force Four’s ship Opportunity, the proud steed of the Fatemaker Space Marines; victor of countless battles against the Dark Forces. Now that the orbital cannon was down, there was nothing in the rebels’ arsenal to damage the ancient Astartes cruiser. The ship crept over the besieged Land Raiders and their assailants so low that it was possible to make out all the individual details on it: the bombardment cannons, the launch bays and the inversed ‘Q’-symbol on the side and at the bottom of the vessel.

The rebels ceased firing. There was no real point in it any more. The strike cruiser was capable of levelling the whole city with its armament, and they would not even have been able to retaliate. What they did not know, however, was that the cruiser had something else in store for them.

‘Prepare for vox silence,’ came the last command from Brother-Sergeant Gorski.

Miklas glanced at the chronometer on the dashboard, and saw that he only had a few seconds until Phase Five reached its conclusion. He deactivated all his communication links save the one reserved for observation (knowing all other Fatemaker personnel were doing the same thing), and waited.

The cruiser came even lower, and the only sound audible now was that of its powerful engines. Then it stopped, exactly when the chronometer reached zero seconds, and the open observation channel filled Miklas’s Land Raider with harsh, hissing white noise.

Miklas turned down the volume on the dashboard, and leaned back.

‘And now you are blind and deaf,’ he murmured.

The corporal at the outermost outpost finally realized just how bad his day was turning out to be. He panicked along his men when the strike cruiser descended on the city, and he managed to only slightly recover when he realized that the vessel went over their head and had no intention of shooting at them. The noise its engines were making still blocked out most other voice, and the ship was still frighteningly amazing, so his men continued to watch it with open mouths.

Then there was some other noise. A faint noise which was somehow getting stronger, and now was audible in spite of the loud engine noise. The corporal turned around looking for the source, and as he looked out towards the countryside, he saw something that shocked him to the core.

A wave of human bodies was moving towards the capital. It engulfed the lonely abandoned hab-buildings, and continued to rush towards his position. A huge throng of loyalist PDF soldiers, stretching all over the horizon, threatening to sweep away everything of its path. The new noise the corporal heard was the vengeance-thirsty howl of thirty-thousand human soldiers.

‘This is not happening,’ the corporal whispered. A commotion was breaking out as his men noticed the incoming enemy force. One of his men ran to him with a vox unit in his hand.

‘Corporal! All communications are down! We cannot reach high command or any other units!’

‘It cannot be…’ The corporal was almost crying. Some of his men started to run back towards the city.

‘Corporal! What now? Sir, what shall we do?’ His subordinate seemed desperate. He grabbed the officer by the sleeve and started to shake him.

‘What shall we do, sir?’

The corporal jerked his arm away from the rebel soldier.

‘What to do?’ he asked. He made a step aside, keeping his eyes firmly on the enemy army, and sat down on the infamous rubble of stone he had already used twice that day. ‘Well, I suppose, you can do whatever the hell you want now, soldier.’

And so he sat and stared on the ground in front of him, broken and hopeless. He stayed that way to the very end: that is, until ten minutes later when the first loyalist soldier arrived at the rubble and ran his bayonet through his chest.

‘Phase Five is completed, and Phase Six is under way, generals,’ Brother-Captain Malistrum’s voice boomed from the vox unit.

‘Yess!’ hissed one of the generals, giving voice to the general mood. The officers in the Headquarters room looked sufficiently pleased, even in spite of their previous misgivings.

‘I am happy that you are happy, generals, but time is not on our side,’ continued Malistrum. ‘The Opportunity managed to disrupt vox communication in the capital area, but this makes your troops as vulnerable as the enemy. Squads 4.4 and 4.5, together with Armour Division 4.2 drew all nearby enemy forces into their position. Once your men destroy them with our help, we are going to have a gap of almost a mile in their first defence line. We will move on to break through the next line immediately.’

‘I am still unsure of the loss of vox contact…’ started one of the generals, but Malistrum interrupted him.

‘We have already gone through this. The strike cruiser will provide you with tactical information about enemy movements – I do not expect a lot of movements, by the way. The bottom lights of the cruiser will provide flash-codes, which my forces will relay to your men.’

‘Leaving them in your complete control,’ remarked the general who had previously expressed his hostility towards the Fatemakers.

The Chapter serf who was handling the vox unit made a faint smile, but said nothing. Malistrum was not so reserved, however.

‘Leaving them in our complete control, yes. We have the necessary training to operate and coordinate in complete vox silence, and you do not. This was the second most effective strategy against a city full of enemies, and I agreed with you when you said the first option was not viable.’

‘You mean the orbital bombing of the whole city,’ snorted the general.

‘We had no argument over it,’ answered Malistrum. ‘I do understand how counter-productive the destruction of the main production facility of the world could be to the further operation of the planet…’

‘Counter-productive…’ breathed another officer.

‘… which is why I decided on a more complicated approach which have already cost my chapter an Astertes warrior and two aircraft with its serf-crew. My estimate is that by the end of Phase Six, I will lose two or three more battle-brothers.’

‘The cleaning of the whole city would only cost you two or three more soldiers?’ asked an officer incredulously.

‘The purge of the whole city would cost us much more,’ came the answer, ‘but we are going to disengage and leave this warzone in two days.’

Now this was completely new information.

‘WHAT?’ shouted almost the whole room, except the nervous-looking general who originally greeted the Fatemakers on the first day.

‘Did General Clethas not inform you about this?’

‘He most certainly didn’t!’ cried the general with the disapproving attitude. He turned to his colleague. ‘What’s with this load of crap, Clethas?’

Clethas seemed extremely unhappy. He glanced at the unmoving Fatemaker serf next to the vox-unit – he had long decided that the man was mute at the very least – and started to speak.

‘The treaty that the… Astartes Brother-Captain made me sign… well, it stated that the Fatemakers would break the city in two days from the beginning of the operation, but it also stipulated that they would leave immediately afterwards.’

Everybody was shocked.

‘Why?’ asked one of them. Clethas shrugged.

‘They didn’t say.’

‘And you… just agreed to this?’ asked the angry general slowly, to which the answer was another shrug.

‘What can I say? You voted executive power for me to negotiate with the Astartes. They said they only had eleven days for this world, and they said… they would leave right away if this was not acceptable.’

‘Eleven days, two of which would be used to navigate our ship in and out of the system,’ came Malistrum’s voice from the vox unit. ‘A week of planning, then two days of fighting. It will be enough for our combined forces to penetrate the two remaining defence lines and meet the Fatemaker squads who are holding the central orbital cannon. With the enemy high command destroyed and their forces scattered and effectively bisected, your troops will be sufficient to destroy the remaining resistance in the capital on your own.

‘Our forces will suffer greatly without your help,’ objected another officer.

‘I do not doubt that. By my estimate, the complete subjugation of the capital will cost you anywhere between sixteen and twenty-seven thousand troops, depending on the talent of you, generals.’

‘You cannot be serious.’ The angry general seemed like he was about to explode. ‘You talk about us humans as if we were nothing but dirt. This is how you see us, isn’t it? You don’t even consider…’

‘Oh, for the love of the Throne!’ Brother-Captain Maistrum’s voice seemed slightly angry for the first time since he had established vox contact. ‘General, let me ask you one question. Why do you think Strike Force Four came to this system?’

Te general seemed uncertain.

‘What do you mean…’

Malistrum continued. ‘The reason we came here is not because you sent out a message for help, but because we were heading this way anyway. I do not know how much you see of the Imperium from this lonely world, but my chapter is hard-pressed to handle all the local conflicts in the subsector. For your information, Strike Force Four has received six emergency calls from six different locations in the last month alone. We would not even be here if it was not for the fact that from this location, we would be able to move right into the next warzone in the Ablathea system. We could afford the shortcut that your world represented because that war is a drawn-out conflict which consumes tens of thousands of soldiers every day, but it would not resolve itself for a while. They could wait and you could not. I appreciated the fact that your conflict would have festered and probably destroyed your world, so I made the necessary sacrifices: three, maybe four of my battle-brothers, lost vehicles, aircraft and crew members and at least a hundred thousand men in Ablathea. Do you believe it will be a pleasant moment when I arrive there and have this exact same conversation with a general with exactly the same attitude as yours? Perhaps you would like to record a vox message explaining to him with his hundred thousand dead people why the loss of your ten or twenty thousand soldiers is such an outrageous thing?

There was great silence now – not for the first time since the Novgarrod PDF command had been dealing with the Fatemaker captain. Even the general was quite speechless.

‘I do believe that we can drop this issue,’ said Malistrum. ‘Your world will have a fighting chance in two days, and I am certain that we will be able to assist Ablathea as well; however, we are working on a tight schedule, and so we have to make compromises. Is this situation acceptable for you?’

The general seemed to add something, but Clethas waved him down.

‘It is, of course, acceptable, Brother-Captain,’ said in a tired voice.

‘Good,’ came the answer. ‘Then I believe it is time to speak about our payment.’

And so the generals were surprised again.

‘You mean you fought here for money?’ the general broke out.

‘Of course not,’ answered Malistrum. ‘General Clethas, have you not informed your peers about the nature about the naklonjenost-treaty?’

‘There was no proper time for that,’ answered Clethas unwillingly. He turned to the other generals again. ‘The Brother-Captain insisted that we refill his stocks in return for his assistance. He had a list of inventory that he needed…’ He fished out a data slate from his pocket, adjusted something on it and handed it over to the group. ‘There it is’.

‘All the necessary materials and other resources to wage the next war,’ explained Malistrum while the generals went over the list. ‘The Fatemaker strike forces must be one hundred per cent operational all the time or we would not be able to react to emergencies properly.’

‘Actually, the list…’ Clethas started. He became a little nervous again. ‘You know, when I went over it, I found…’

‘Do you find our requirements excessive?’

‘Well, no, actually, I don’t.’ It was true. The Space Marines did not ask for much. The list contained mostly processed ore, promethium and foodstuff – nothing which a moderately developed planet could not provide, and the quantity of these materials was not demanding either. ‘It is just the last item on the list…’

The generals scrolled down on the list to the last item. Angry and disbelieving hisses followed.

‘What is the problem with the last item?’

‘Well, it’s just…’


‘What would you do with so many children?’

‘They are all Schola Progenium students. This makes them orphans, which means they do not have families who might miss them. I do not understand your concern.’

Clethas sighed and read out the slate.

‘Five specifically named male children, fifty healthy male children between the age of twelve and fifteen and fifty healthy female children between ten and thirteen. Brother-Captain, you must understand that we… are concerned of the fate of these children. They are Novgarrod people, and they are young… so we... you know, we are responsible for them.’

‘Oh! That, I understand,’ came the answer from the vox-unit. ‘Based on their medical data, the five named children have the necessary physical characteristics to survive the Astartes implantation process. They are potential Space Marine recruits, general.’

‘Oh, I see,’ frowned Clethas. ‘And the other one hundred…’

‘Do not worry about them, general Clethas. They are too young for physical labour, and probably not compatible with the implantation process. We simply want to use them for procreation.’

Everyone’s jaw dropped.


‘Only after they have come of age, of course. The serf population of Strike Force Four is a closed community, and we prefer to keep it that way. However, their gene-stock must be replenished every now and then, and with the recent military losses of our soldier contingent, we are forced us to take in outsiders. Their young age will make it easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings. Do not worry,’ Malistrum added, ‘We treat our serfs fair and equal. They are guaranteed their own living quarters, three meals a day, one of them hot and a life expectancy of forty-two years for men and sixty for women.’

Clethas’s head started to hurt. How was he supposed to talk to people who speak the same language as him but think in such alien patterns?

‘General Clethas, I feel that we are talking about irrelevant topics now,’ Malistrum said. ‘Are you willing to honour the naklonjenost?’

Clethas slowly nodded, then realized that the captain could not see him and said it aloud.

‘Yes. Yes, of course we will honour it.’

‘Good. Then, if there is nothing else, I shall contact my troops and instruct them about the next thrust. We have two days to crush these heretics as much as we can, and after that, it will be your job to deal with the rest. I must warn you that my squads reported cult marks on several individuals in the capital, which means the Belandon population is likely to be completely tainted. They will probably not give up the fight, and even if they do, you may be forced to destroy every one of them in the end. I have sent for an inquisitorial envoy, and it will probably arrive within three to four weeks; he will give you the final instructions. Any more question for now?’

There was none. All the officers were standing in silence, exchanging uncertain looks. The angry general snorted and threw the data slate on the ground with a disgusted face; the Fatemaker serf stepped forward and picked it up without a sound.

‘Then our meeting is concluded here. The Emperor protects.’

‘The Emperor protects,’ murmured some of the officers. The serf showed the sign of the Aquila and said, ‘The Emperor protects.’

This was the last surprise for the day. Everyone looked at him.

Holy throne of Earth, this man can actually speak?

The vox went silent; the serf turned it off. Clethas watched him for a moment, then coughed nervously.

‘Erm… Fatemaker serf?’

‘Yes, sir?’ asked the serf. He had a completely normal adult male voice.

‘You can… speak.’

‘Naturally, sir. I would not be a useful liaison man if I could not speak.’

‘But you didn’t say a word for more than a week!’

‘It was not necessary,’ the man smiled politely. ‘My master told you everything you needed to know – and you did not ask me a single question to answer.’

This was true. None of the Novgarrod PDF command asked him anything. Clethas rubbed his temple.

‘Your masters… I mean, Brother-Captain Malistrum…’

‘Yes, sir?’

‘Your masters are jerks,’ snapped the angry general.

Everyone froze. Clethas swore under his breath. The Fatemakers were certainly not easy to handle, but Throne! They were Space Marines, the Angels of Death, the grandchildren of the Emperor himself! If the serf…

To his great surprise, the serf only chuckled and shook his had sadly.

‘I’m afraid I have to agree with you, sir,’ he said. ‘Actually, my masters know exactly that others see the as, erm… what you said. However,’ he added, looking straight into the eyes of general Clethas, ‘I think we can all be grateful that they are, in fact, our jerks.’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Gaius Marius » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:23 am

Very very good meaneye. Really good characterization in all parts, especially the captain and the serf tank driver. You've really put a lot of work into this and it pays off. The Fatemakers seem very real and very practical, they're not wrapped up in a lot of mumbojumbo mysticism and they've certainly not bought into their own propaganda.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Midgard » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:04 pm

Still as impressive as ever. I am really enjoying the story, and the Fatemakers' practical and professional conduct is a stark contrast to the "insert-culture-here" flavor of space marines (not that there are no good stories with those, but it is a refreshingly different Chapter). Can't wait for the next part! :)
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:45 am

Thanks a lot, guys :D

Actually, I have tried to stick to a certain cultural aspect by choosing names for the characters which represent two places: one is Asia, and the other is more or less the Dalmatian coastline - the Balkans - Greece to some degree (all names heavily distorted because I don't think that any typical name used today would be recognisable in almost forty millenia). It was meant to suggest that the Chapter used the same one or two planets for recruiting, but now I see that I will not work that part out, so that's that. The names will stay anyway. :roll:

The next part will be about the Fatemakers' history, and it explains where their pragmatism comes from.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:49 am

And here comes the next Update (I am quite proud of this one).

Part Six

Chapter Two

Sector Malachias was a congregation of low-importance systems to the galactic east of the Doninion of Storms. Although the region contained some important world, it had always been somewhat isolated from the centre of the Imperium, perhaps even more so than the much further-lying Realm of Ultramar. The fact that the subsystem lay outside the major conflict zones of the 41st millennium was nothing short of a small blessing. There was no serious Traitor Legion activity, the hive fleets were not yet present to cause problems in the galactic east; and even the Charadon orks were far enough to represent only a minor threat to the approximately thousand Imperial systems there. This relative peace had an unfortunate side-effect as the Council of Terra paid only enough attention to the sector to appoint three Space Marine chapters as its wardens.

The Blue Avengers, the Silver Halberds and the Twilight Monks guarded the Malachias Sector for millennia. The sector was big, and they were few, which meant they were forced to do long patrols and had to operate alone for extended periods of time. If the chapters had kept closer contact, if they had had the time to check their peers, perhaps it would not have come to the cursed moment when the whole Twilight Monks Chapter declared their secession from the Imperium, and – for unknown reasons – started to withdraw their patrols from human-inhabited systems. Naturally, the Blue Avengers and the Silver Halberd could not simply sit idle and let their erstwhile brothers escape retribution. After several years of cat and mouse game, they finally managed to corner the renegade chapter in the otherwise unremarkable Borshak system.

Where they lost. Badly. The Twilight Monks prepared a trap for the other two chapters, and they managed to virtually blow the atmosphere of Borshak V onto the united fleet of the loyalists. This one fatal blow reduced the Blue Avengers and the Silver Halberds to one and a half and one remaining companies respectively. The remaining half a dozen vessels and no more than 240 warriors were no match for the virtually undamaged enemy. Yet the Twilight Monks did not exploit this victory in any meaningful way: they merely extracted their forces from the system, then from the whole sector, and disappeared somewhere into the galactic north.

This grave injustice called for Twilight Monk blood, but the two chapters were in no condition to exact their revenge: they were busy fighting for their own survival. Once the two chapters had managed to pull their forces together (a heroic feat considering their whole higher echelon went down at Borshak V), they immediately petitioned to Terra to receive aid for the rebuilding. Some even spoke of a possible new foundation: after all, they were responsible for a vast swathe of the Imperium, no matter how little remarkable it was. Terra will send help, said the three surviving captains. Terra must send help.

The help never arrived; indeed, actually, the confirmation that the High Lords received the plea did not arrive either. This was surprising, but, on a galactic scale, hardly unprecedented. The High Lords were quite busy with what they considered to be the true threats to the Imperium, and even if they knew about the trials and tribulations of the Malachias Sector, they must have argued that since the Twilight Monks did not start wreaking havoc in the region, the original low-alert status quo was still intact. Sector Malachias will survive well enough without its Astartes protectors.

In this atmosphere of general disinterest, nobody expected the tradition-bound Space Marines to take the initiative and find a way to save themselves on their own. Their method of choice was quite unprecedented: the two chapters melded into a new one and withdrew from the conflicts of the sector for a couple of decades. The new chapter did away with the traditions and obligations of the old ones: they changed the colour of their armour into rock-crete grey, they re-organised and replenished the companies and the even started to expand their fleet. To symbolize the rebirth of not the older chapters but something completely new, the Apothecaries devised a covert gene-seed implantation system to ensure that the new recruits did not know which chapter’s genetic material they carried on. The older battle-brothers made serious vows never to reveal to the new chapter members who belonged to which chapter; it was even said that the three remaining captains simply drew lots to decide who would be the new chapter master, who then put on his helmet and never removed it in public for the rest of his life. The Fatemakers – most possibly named so after their grim determination to preserve the Astartes presence in the Malachias Sector despite the overwhelming odds – were born, and the new chapter managed to shed its original dual identity within a few decades.

The first chapter master – whose name, face and chapter affiliation remained a closely-guarded secret of the Fatemaker Librarian-Archivists – quickly initiated a series of new policies. The chase and extermination of the Twilight Monks was not among them. That chapter left human-inhabited space, and although the Fatemakers had been nursing a grudge against them to the very last days of the Imperium, their duty – the protection of Mankind and the Malachias Sector – remained the chapter’s sole priority. The events of the last few decades had proven that the Space Marines were utterly alone in this task: not even mighty Terra understood the necessity of keeping Astartes presence intact among the stars. If the new chapter wanted to succeed, it could no longer rely on anyone – anyone – outside the brotherhood of the two founding chapters.

Achieving self-reliance was not easy in the feudal system of the Imperium: indeed, the yet-to-be chapter could only survive the first few years after Borshak V because the Silver Halberd element of the new alliance could rely on an ancient pact that bound the Corinthe forge-world to provide shelter for them while they could re-organize. This event gave the chapter master the idea that led to the rebirth of a new chapter. The Fatemakers made a new series of treaties and oaths with various Imperial organizations in the sector, which entitled the chapter to rights, privileges and material bounty for services they provided above the usual chapter obligations. The first real implementation of the naklonjenost, as the new feudal system came to be known, came almost immediately as the chapter made a new proposal to the Corinthe forge-world. The offer was simply too good to refuse, and after twenty-two years of exploring and half a company’s worth of dead Astartes, the Fatemakers managed to hand over to the Corinthians the blueprints of three functional STC-technologies. The reward was on par with the price: the Fatemakers received standard factorum assembly lines, which enabled them to reproduce and maintain almost all of their battle-gear on their own. There was enough Techmarine in the chapter to take care of the assembly lines too: since Terra did not grace the chapter with its attention, the chapter master himself did not force the issue of writing new reports about the merge of the original two chapters, and as Mars had always remained somewhat separated from Terran politics, the Martian priesthood never even realized that they were no longer supposed to train any Astartes initiate who wore Silver Halberd and Blue Avenger heraldry.

Having received double the amount of Techmarines that a chapter normally should and being in possession of the technology to arm itself properly, the chapter now only needed to start a program of forced gene-seed-growth wherein the genetic material necessary to create another Astartes was grown in the chest of the mortal serfs of the chapter – themselves also the result of a naklonjenost-treaty. Even the normal, well-regulated process of gene-seed implanting was a barely understood technology, and this fast-paced (even so, lasting more than three years) method quickly resulted in the death of countless serfs and would-be initiates. Nevertheless, it worked: more gene-seed implanting meant more deaths but more successes as well, and after a period of about 40 more years, the chapter managed to crawl its way up to 7 full battle-companies. Meanwhile, Terra did not respond to the new chapter in any way, seemingly leaving them alone in their endeavours.

Local organizations, however, were not so lenient. The Malachias Inquisition had by then heard enough of the new chapter to decide on a full-scale investigation. There were certain worrisome rumours concerning the methods the chapter used during the recovery phase: the seemingly duplicitous nature in which the Fatemakers trained their specialists, the way they used humans as test-subjects in creating more gene-seed and the system of naklonjenost, which made the chapter almost a kind of mercenary force in the eyes of a few inquisitors. All this was coupled with the fact that the chapter master had apparently and deliberately waited for long years to announce this new foundation – by the way, do Space Marines actually have the right to create a new chapter on their own?

The investigation lasted for several more years, and, to the mild surprise of the Inquisition, revealed no serious offence. The naklonjenost treaties were only made with official Imperial functionaries, never below the level of planetary governor and certainly not with private interest groups. The gene-seed implanting program was initiated among the Fatemaker serfs who were originally bound to the chapter according to the Imperial Law: they were in fact properties of the chapter, and this gave the Fatemakers the right to deal with them as they saw fit. Also, they were all volunteers: the Fatemakers enforced a very strict religious atmosphere among the human serfs of the chapter, making the endurance of the implantation a holy and sacred duty which the mortal serfs were actually petitioning for. The orthodox religious views of the chapter eased the mind of the Ecclesiarchy experts among the inquisitors, which left only the final charge standing: that of deceiving Mars and various other Imperial organizations.

This last charge was actually serious: the Imperial institutions had chronically been intolerant to abuse from outsiders. The key to the final absolution of the Fatemakers came not from the law but from pragmatism. The Adeptus Mechanicus won three STCs in the bargain, which more than made up for the inconvenience the Fatemakers had caused. The Inquisition received all the evidence which showed how often the two original chapters had reported their plight to the High Lords of Terra, receiving no answer whatsoever. The Malachias Sector in general had regularly been in the same situation, which was the side-effect of being somewhat of a backwater. As for the final charge: nobody could say anything about the formation of a new chapter because it was not actually a new formation, just the merging of two existing chapters: a situation the original laws did not detail.

It seemed the Inquisition had to say the final word in this matter, which was where pragmatism came into the picture. The sector was more or less alone. The inquisitors had the power to put an end to the chapter there and then, only to rid themselves of a perfect weapon and a potential ally; solve a problem which did not seem to be a big problem only to face a real threat in the future alone. The new Fatemaker chapter had already had a series of important victories on its belt and, speaking in administrative terms, had done all the paperwork right. They were even willing to offer naklonjenost-treaties to the Malachias Inquisition, who would this way receive a quasi-Deathwatch force. The debate was finally settled in favour of the new Astartes chapter.

The real madness started soon after. The chapter master took the fleet that his chapter amassed during the early period of rebuilding, and assigned various strike force groups to it. The traditional company division remained on paper, but, as they argued, even the other Codex chapters occasionally mixed their companies to achieve greater efficiency. Specialist groups and their equipment were divided evenly among these new companies: no separate terminator or Scout companies existed in the Fatemaker chapter. The strike groups were mostly autonomous, except for three vessels which formed a reserve force in case all other groups die – this new chapter was not going to be decimated like its predecessors. All ships were self-maintaining communities with their own civilian population, artificers, small peacemaker contingent, even with their own priesthood. The only things a strike group needed were processed ore, fuel and other provisions, with the occasional recruited manpower to replenish losses. As the Malachias Sector was really big, the strike groups were forced to make journeys which took years or even decades: in return, the sector did not need to petition for a central Astartes base which may have been located a whole year’s warp travel from the emergency. The Fatemakers started to make their presence felt in the whole sector.

Few people were impressed by their performance. The strike forces were somewhat choosy in their targets: they sometimes ignored call for help if they felt the local forces were sufficient to handle the matter; sometimes they came unannounced, deployed in the middle of a warzone and steamrolled the enemy as the Imperial forces were standing and watching, confused. Their interaction with their supposed allies was always brisk and matter-of-fact, even to the point of rudeness. They were extremely distrustful towards most other factions within the Imperium, and instead of forging lasting alliances, they relied exclusively on one-time naklonjenost-arrangements. Like a mistrustful merchant: pay and leave. Their business-like rudeness was further complicated by the fact that they almost never stayed in one battlezone longer than their mission required. A Fatemaker strike force undertook the most dangerous missions if necessary: they dropped right onto the top of the enemy high command, they attacked mountain-like war machines, they fought in the most murderous battle conditions, but they outright refused to see a campaign to the end or help local forces defeat the remains of the enemy. They simply came, crushed and smashed something big and then left it up to others to pick up the pieces.

Various complaints have been filed against the Fatemakers: lack of battlefield discipline, insufficient zeal in the presence of the enemy, arrogance and a tendency for sedition. The complaints were all dutifully recorded and then ignored. The Inquisition, along with other military organisations, painstakingly analysed all the battles of the Fatemaker Chapter, and sheer statistical figures proved that the methods of the Space Marines worked. By breaking up enemy resistance and then moving on as quickly as possible, the Fatemakers were able to interfere in more conflicts than originally thought possible. Wars became shorter and enemies became manageable, all thanks to the timely intervention of an Astartes strike force. Fifty years after the Fatemakers initiated their new military policies, statistical data collected by a routine Administratum check-up revealed that the average number of wars and military conflicts erupting in the Malachias Sector dropped by a full 1.34%, and the only factor which changed in that period was the activation of the Space Marine Chapter.

A meaningless-looking 1.34%. In a sector of more than one thousand inhabited systems. In a period of fifty years, easily a lifetime by Imperial standards. Nobody had even dared to dream of such high success rates.

And so the new chapter was fully accepted and absolved of all real and imagined offences; however, they continued to be hugely unpopular in some circles. Pious the 34th, the Arc-Bishop of the Novia system remarked how the Chapter’s strike force ship had several small chapels instead of a major one just because, in the words of the strike-force leader, ‘We need the biggest hall for armour manoeuvre practice.’ The envoy of the Space Wolf Space Marine Chapter – non-Fatemaker Astartes were rare guests in the Malachias Sector – took exception to the fact that the Fatemakers were unwilling to have a proper victory feast at the conclusion of a greater campaign (the answer of the Fatemaker leader, in fact, the last sentence the two chapters communicated between each other, was this: ‘there is an insurrection seventeen light years away which is about to overrun the planetary capital. We can stay here and feast while an Imperial world falls into the hands of rebels, or you can come with us and help.’). Strike Force Seven and the general of the 36th Kwai Pen Infantry mutually reported and accused the other of derelict of duty after the Astartes leader had actually referred to the Guard regiment as ‘fodder’, to which the thrice-decorated general simply withdrew his forces from two key positions and suggested that the Fatemaker commander hold them with his hundred superhuman soldiers then come back and run his mouth.

In spite of all the negative opinions, outrage and downright hostility, the Fatemakers had been making their patrol circles around Sector Malachias throughout the 41st and 42nd millennium. In their quest to keep the human-inhabited systems safe, these soldiers had to part with even some of the characteristics of their Astartes brethren. Their traditions and rituals gradually melted in the never ceasing torrent of requests for help. The respect that other chapters had never really came from the humans whom they were forced to leave behind in favour of another group of humans who were in bigger need. They had successful missions, but there was almost never time to actually win a war, so the Fatemakers did not even have the battle laurels to present as proof of their heroism. Instead they went on and on: not trusting anybody, not needing anybody, forced into a faster and faster spinning circle of preparation, brisk actions and continuous journey, like an increasingly frustrated stonemason who is trying to keep together a huge, ageing and slowly crumbling building with his bare hands.

As luck would have had it, this routine would soon undergo certain changes.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:27 pm

Part Seven

Low orbit above Belandon, Capital of New Novgarrod.

19 days until the Emperor’s death.

‘All be seated,’ said Brother-Captain Malistrum.

There was a brief clatter as those present in the room sat down at the round table. The room was obviously designed to hold conferences and tactical briefings, and was currently housing almost twenty people from the various ranks of the Fatemaker Astartes Chapter.

Not all people in the room were Space Marines. There were four others, who were invited by virtue of their role in the Belandon Incident – as the war would be recorded by the Chapter’s Librarian-Archivists. Miklas, the leader of the armour division was one of them, and so was the young serf who served as liaison to the Novgarrod officer cadre. The other two people – well, they were not Space Marines, but technically, they were not humans either.

Almost opposite Miklas, there was an Adeptus Mechanicus Adept by the name of Brakk 83/AF. The tank officer saw the usual red-hooded figure, although this one’s face was intact enough to tell Miklas that the adept used to be a ‘he’, and he used to be dark-skinned. He was the highest-ranking adept aboard the Fatemaker strike cruiser specializing in warp technology; an irreplaceable asset when it came to the fast-moving strategy of Strike Force Four.

Navigator Yasmilda, the fourth outsider in this Space Marine meeting, seemed nervous. She was wearing the traditional bandanna on her forehead to cover her third eye, a mutation which allowed her to navigate the ship in the Warp. She was tapping on the table with her fingers, fixating the smooth metal surface in front of her. Navigators were not social people, but Fatemaker policies made it obligatory for every important staff member to be present at all briefings, and so she had to tolerate human contact.

The other figures around the table were true Space Marines. They had just returned from the surface of Novgarrod, and they did not even have the time to clean their armour properly: they sat at the table the way they finished the engagement, which was also a company custom. Parts of their armour was scratched and chipped; the one comfort they allowed for themselves was an intensive water shower and scraping on arrival. This removed the blood and oil patches of their armour, but there was still a faint smell about them: a combination of different weapon discharge chemicals and a hint of blood. None of them wore their helmets. Strike Force Four created its own set of traditions even within the Chapter, and one such tradition was the symbolic open-mindedness and honesty that the uncovered faces represented during meetings.

Miklas knew all of the Astartes, and not only by their looks. They were heroes and legends to him, and even though he had been fighting with them for decades, they still amazed him with their power and achievements.

The Techmarines sat together in a trio on Miklas’s left. There was Guztav, the youngest of them, with his frank, intelligent eyes; then there were the twins, Skarin and Askarin. It was virtually unheard of to recruit siblings, let alone twins in an Astartes Chapter, but these two did not only survive training and the implantation process, but managed to become highly specialized weapon masters in their own right. Their features were emotionless even by Astartes standards as they were looking at their assembled brethren.

Next to them sat the sergeants and Apothecaries. Unsurprisingly, sergeant Essen sat as far from sergeant Andorias as possible. It was not a secret in the company that these two Space Marines did not like each other. It was not a personal thing, merely a difference in their views and fighting methods, and so the captain tolerated their silent enmity. It was strange for a non-Astartes to see such invincible warriors with their scarred yet noble faces eyeing each other, their brothers-in-arms, with such antipathy and loathing. Well, it was strange to see Sergeant Essen with antipathy in his eyes. Andorias, as usual, simply ignored his peer and looked at the trio at the nominal head of the table.

Librarian Akichi’s head was shaved bald to remove all interference around the head implants he used to connect with his psychic hood. He had slightly slanted eyes and an exotic shade of skin-colour. This particular phenotype was referred to by the Imperium as ‘Eastern’, although in an interstellar civilization, this signifier no longer had any practical meaning. He looked tired but focussed. Miklas had heard some dark stories about his fight with the enemy psyker two days ago, and if only half of those rumours were true, then he had every right to be tired and victorious.

The other Space Marine was Brother-Chaplain Uskovich. A menacing figure clad in black, with a helmet shaped like a skull to plant fear into the heart of enemy and friend alike – until he actually removed it, and people could see he did not look that bad. His helmet was on the table now and his face was visible. He had pleasant, smart, almost devilishly handsome features. Some people had made false assumptions based on his friendly looks, but those people were utterly wrong. The Chaplain’s unshakable faith in the Emperor and the Fatemakers’ mission was exemplary, and his flaming oratory, combined with his martial prowess, enticed all Astartes and auxiliary soldiers to ever greater acts of bravery. He was half the driving power behind Strike Force Four, the strong beating heart of the Astartes company.

If Uskovich was the heart of the company, then Captain Malistrum was the brain. He was wise and ancient, with almost a hundred years of service in the Fatemaker chapter. His face was a crisscross of decade-old scars and burns, and yet, even these wounds did not make his features unpleasant or rough. He was a great tactician, and he possessed a trait which was a rare commodity among the Astartes: creativity. He could take a seemingly hopeless situation – like the risky attack on the Belandon forces – and process the available information in such a way that ensured a quick victory. He knew the strong and weak points of his men, his ship and the Imperium in general. The Space Marine company would not have been able to operate in so many battles in such a short span of time.

The cream of the Astartes strike force. The room was virtually vibrating with potential.

‘Brothers,’ Captain Malistrum started his speech, ‘Phase Fifteen has been concluded. Brother-Sergeant Essen,’ he nodded towards the Space Marine Captain, ‘and his scouts were the last chapter personnel on the planet. The Opportunity is going to leave orbit as soon as we finish briefing, and we shall move towards the next battlezone.’

There was no specific response in the room; Malistrum only said the facts.

‘I am impressed by the preliminary analysis,’ the Brother-Captain continued, ‘but I would like to hear the final reports before putting an end to this case for good. I want to keep it simple and straight, according to our customs.’

This post-mission briefing had its well choreographed tradition which all Fatemakers present had completed dozens of times. The tradition dictated that the last officer leaving the warzone should start, and so Essen leaned forward.

‘Our forces took off and boarded the Opportunity in good order. We handed all of our key positions over to the Novgarrod PDF, and they continued all operations as planned. My scouts managed to kill Target 17 about two hours ago. He was the last name on the list, so I believe that we completed all our objectives. Nobody left behind, all equipment retrieved, all personnel accounted for. I call our withdrawal successful.’

‘My compliments on eliminating the last target,’ said Malistrum. He turned to the other sergeants. ‘What is the position of the PDF?’

Miklas turned towards Andorias, who took it upon himself to answer. ‘The Belandon PDF is not Guard standard, but they are adequate. Morale was sufficiently high during the joint operation, and they performed according to our pre-mission analysis. Losses were medium to heavy, altogether 1300-1400 dead; slightly higher than expected.’

Miklas frowned. Had Sergeant Essen just grimaced at Andorias’s words?

Andorias continued.

‘I believe that the Belandon PDF is going to be able to take the city, but they will suffer greater losses than anticipated. The ground forces are stable enough, but the orders don’t seem to flow as they should.’

Malistrum shook his head. ‘In my dealings with the Belandon higher echelon, I felt a great degree of antipathy towards us, but they seemed to be sufficiently competent.’

‘Any specific grievances on their side, or just the usual?’ asked Essen.

Malistrum made an ironic smile. ‘I would say just the usual. Mediator Dmitrija, you spent time with those people. Can you comment this in any way?’

The young human was not intimidated by the fact that he was addressed by a powerful Space Marine captain, and Miklas was immensely proud of him for it. Dmitrija though for a moment and then spoke.

‘Almost all the generals talked openly about how they hated being left out of the earlier phases of the operation. They felt it… humiliating to stand back and let Space Marines do what they felt they should have done. I am quite sure that they feel that this is no longer their war, that they are fighting someone else’s battle.’

‘Do you think they are not motivated enough, so their leadership suffers?’ asked Malistrum.

Dmitrija held up his hands.

‘I am only saying what I believe, my lord. They were slow and reluctant to keep up with the pace you dictated.’

‘And so their leadership suffers and more people die.’ Essen sighed, leaned on his elbow and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. ‘Can we make an estimate of how many more casualties this poorer leadership will cost them?’

Techmarine Guztav answered. ‘It is simple mathematics, isn’t it? They lost two hundred extra soldiers, and they had our support for the last two days. We factor in our absence, project it onto the necessary four weeks it will take to clean the city, and we end up with…’

‘An extra four or five thousand,’ finished Essen.

There was silence for a moment.

‘Is there anything we can do?’ asked Gorski, to which Malistrum sadly shook his head.

‘It is pointless to make the same arguments to them again and again. If this is how they can handle their crisis, then this is how they will handle it.’

‘Can we say that this is neglect of duty on their part?’ asked Andorius coldly. ‘If it is true, we have to report this to the Inquisition, and they will sort out this problem once they arrive.’

‘This will not help those five thousand people,’ Essen objected.

‘That is not our concern any more, is it?’ Andorius retorted.

The two captains looked at each other.

‘We will not report anything to the Inquisition because this does not concern them.’ Malistrum did not raise his voice, but he still managed to draw attention. ‘The Inquisition is interested in the loyalty of these people, and they have already proven themselves by starting to prosecute this war. They did not convert, they did not give up, they did as much as they could. As for the extra losses,’ he looked at Essen, ‘while this is a great shame on the officer cadre, there is no time for us to intervene and correct their mistake. It would take us another day to deploy and then one more to embark again. Our presence would save lives, but it would not reduce the necessary time to mop up the remaining forces. The war in the Ablatheas system needs us badly, and there is a new development,’ here, the captain looked aside to Librarian Akichi, ‘which will potentially turn our schedule upside down. We could feel sorry for these people, and we could blame their officers for not being as good as we expect them to be – the one thing we cannot do is devote more time to this issue.’

Essen clenched his two fists, then opened them and turned his palms outside, as if to give up. Malistrum nodded.

‘We can assume that the Belandon force has successfully taken over the prosecution of this war. It is time to see how our company fared. Apothecarion?’

One of the Astertes in white armour answered.

‘We have two confirmed losses in our ranks: Brother Liu and Brother Fenton. Their gene-seeds have been harvested, and they are ready for the final rites. However, we cannot make a decision about Brother Changrapopulos.’

‘Is there a chance that he might survive?’ asked Essen.

‘We cannot be sure, and this is the problem.’

This was new development. Battle-Brother Changrapopulos was hit by a tank shell, which opened up his armour and littered his organs with hundreds of tiny metal fragments. He should not even have survived the transport back to the Opportunity, yet somehow he managed to cling to life.

‘His body stabilized, but he shows no brain functions,’ explained the Apothecary. ‘I don’t believe that he will ever regains consciousness, much less recover. If it weren’t for his relatively stable state, we would have bestowed the Emperor’s Peace on him, but now we will need your say in this matter.’

Changrapopulos was a member of Squad 4.4, Hemethor’s team. His face darkened at the Apothecary’s words, but he shook his head nonetheless.

‘I trust the Apothecary’s medical judgement. I have consulted with them, and they said that only their machines keep him alive, not his spirit. If Brother Changrapopulos is no longer able to fight for his survival, then it is his time to go, and our time to let him go.’

Malistrum looked unconvinced.

‘Brother Apothecary, what was the longest recorded time a brother of ours stayed in this state and then came back and recovered?’

‘I knew you would ask me, Brother-Captain,’ answered the Apothecary, and took out a small data-slate. ‘Approximately eighty years ago, Strike Force Six had a similar injury with one of their Librarians. He was in coma for two hundred and thirty-four days before waking up. The reports say that he made a full recovery after that.’

Miklas was impressed. Of course, he did not know the Librarian from Strike Force Six, but he saw what that tank shell did to Battle-Brother Changrapopulos. Surely not even an Astartes would recover from that?

Librarian Akichi’s voice pulled him back to the meeting.

‘A Librarian’s psychic powers may help him even if he is unconscious,’ he said. ‘It may very well be possible that he healed himself even if he did not know it. Brother Changrapopulos has no such powers.’

‘Did that Librarian show any brain activity?’ asked Essen while the Captain went through the data-slate’s content.

‘Not for the first two months, no,’ answered the Apothecary.

‘Which means there is even less chance for Brother Changrapopulos,’ said Andorias. ‘I regret to say but I see no reason why we should keep the body alive when the mind is obviously not there.’

‘We have to keep the body alive because we have to give him a fighting chance,’ said Malistrum, putting the slate down in front of him. ‘This is what the Fatemakers do. We give people a chance to fight their own battles. Brother Changrapopulos may be in a coma, but there is a slight chance that he will recover, and a Fatemaker deserves that slight chance. Can the Apothecarion keep his body alive without consuming an unreasonable amount of material and energy?’

‘He will obviously occupy a bed at the surgery, he will need a regular amount of nutrition and of course, the machines will require electricity and maintenance… but this is all, really.’

‘Then it is settled’. The captain looked at the people around the table. ‘Two hundred and fifty days. This is how much time Brother Changrapopulos will get from us. I would allow only fifty days if it had not been for our brother at Strike Force Six.’

‘This is a drain on our resources and so against our chapter’s policy,’ Andorias reminded his Captain.

‘Once it becomes an issue, I will revise my decision as necessary,’ said the captain.

Andorias seemed to want to say something more, but Malistrum did not allow him to start.

‘I have made up my mind, Andorias,’ he said in a calm voice.

This was enough. All present dropped the subject and sat back obediently. The captain continued.

‘Let us continue with our losses. Commander Miklas, how fared the armour division?’

Miklas bowed his head slightly.

‘I can only report slight damages to our vehicles. We made a tally of 47 destroyed enemy armour, and the crew performed admirably’. He nodded towards Adept Brakk. ‘I would also like to take the opportunity to thank The Mechanicum contingent for their help at the completion of Phase Four.

The tanks got stranded in that small square, becoming the victims of their own success. They destroyed so many enemy machines that they blocked all streets leading into the square; the Adeptus Mechanicus had to lift the tanks up with cables and an Astartes landing craft, and then they put them down again half a kilometre away. Adept Brakk nodded back.

‘The Omnissiah preserves, and we, His unworthy servants, act in His behalf. We are glad to be of assistance.’ His voice was slightly distorted, a testimony of some discreet voice implant.

‘My thanks to the Mechanicus as well,’ said Malistrum. ‘Have you managed to assess the naklonjenost-reward?’

‘We have, Brother-Captain. The quality of the material the Novgarrodians provided us ranges from excellent to adequate. We replenished the plasma engines of the Opportunity, and we restocked our food supplies. Strike Force Four’s operational capacity is 98.68%, and we possess the means to rebuild and repair everything, including the two Aquila Landers.’

‘I also thank you for the good news. The last item is the new crew intake.’ Malistrum turned his head to the right. ‘Chaplain Uskovich, what is your first impression?’

The Fatemaker Chapter kept a close eye on its human staff, partly because they were chapter members, partly because they were treated as assets: like the chapter armour, the aircraft division or the strike cruiser itself, the crew had its contribution to the missions’ successes. Chaplain Uskovich was not only responsible for the spiritual well-being of the other Space Marines, but also supervised the Opportunity’s human priesthood and the religious fervour of the serfs. He leaned forward a little and began his report.

‘The new intake still has to go through the usual medical examinations and, naturally, they have to be integrated into the ship’s society, but they seem to be physically and spiritually healthy.’ His voice was strong and unfaltering, as befitting a man of his position. ‘The five new recruits are, of course, disoriented, but they are disciplined enough. If the Emperor wills it and they survive the implantation and the training, they will make a worthy addition to the Chapter.’

‘Three of them will statistically survive, which means that they will make up for our losses in Belandon.’ Malistrum smiled. ‘My brothers, it seems that our mission was a success. We managed to break the siege of the Novgarrod capital, and we retained our long-term operational capacity. Unless there is something else on our agenda, I shall declare the Belandon Incident closed.’

Miklas smiled again. Another victory for the Chapter.

‘I wish to formally file a complaint,’ a voice cut in. Sergeant Essen’s voice.

Malistrum looked at his sergeant.

‘What is the nature of your complaint, Sergeant?’

Essen was not intimidated by the captain’s voice. ‘I am concerned about my role and the role of Aquila 3 and 4 during Phase Three.’

‘That phase was a success,’ sergeant Andorias objected. ‘We did not plan to catch all targets there, and you were the one who managed to make the final kill just a few hours…’

‘I am not talking about the elimination of our targets,’ said Essen in a strong voice. He held his head high, reminding Miklas of a man preparing for a fight. ‘I am talking about the elimination of the Hydra crews. We were not given enough time to kill all of them, and this was why the two Aquilas were destroyed.’

‘As was the plan all along,’ Andorias pointed out. ‘You were not supposed to eliminate all of them, Essen. The aim was to reduce the incoming fire, and you did just that.’

Essen sighed.

‘What I want to say,’ he started slowly, as if talking to an idiot, ‘is that not even the two Aquilas had to be destroyed. If I had been allowed to fire just a minute earlier, the three of us could have cleaned the whole southern segment of the orbital cannon, and nobody should have died.’

‘That was not an option,’ said Malistrum sternly. ‘There were too many factors which could have gone wrong at that point. You do understand that we are talking about the single most dangerous moment of the whole operation? Four Thunderhawks packed with over thirty Marines, all our Terminator armour, our chief Librarian, a Techmarine and most of our specialist weaponry? There was a window of three minutes to damage the defences: any more, and the enemy would have time to alert and send more crewmembers, any less, and the flak fire would have destroyed more of our aircraft. Believe me when I say that the only viable option was to provide a shield for our planes and make the necessary sacrifices. In this case, two Aquilas and their crew.’

‘The initial briefing estimated that eight or nine Hydras would remain operational by the time our forces arrive,’ said Essen. ‘We managed to bring down that number to just five. I feel we were not given enough time to finish our mission properly.’

‘The window was too narrow, Essen,’ said Andorias. ‘What if you had made a mistake?’

‘We do not make mistakes,’ retorted Essen. ‘I do not make mistakes.’

Andorias snorted.

‘Are you saying that you would have risked the lives of your brothers to prove your point?’

‘They would not have been in danger.’

‘Because you are that good?’

‘Because I am that good.’

By this time, the two sergeants were almost standing.

‘Are you good enough to say we would have been safe all the way?’

‘I am.’

Are you, Essen?’

Essen made a wolfish smile.

‘Why yes, Andorias. I am that good.’

Miklas was shifting uncomfortably in his chair. He was not used to animosity among his Astartes masters, but he knew enough about the two sergeants’ rivalry. Captain Malistrum had to save the day again.

‘Enough of this, both of you,’ said quietly but firmly. ‘I do not like to repeat myself, so I will say this only once: everyone is a member of the Chapter, Astartes or serf, but there is a hierarchy. A serf is not as important as a battle-brother, a battle-brother is not as important as a squad, the squad can be sacrificed for the strike force to survive, and the strike force will willingly sacrifice itself for the good of the whole Chapter. There was a potential risk there, and although I would trust my life on your skills, Essen, I will not risk a third of our forces on one brother, no matter how good he is. We will not have another Borshak on our hand.’

His hard look swept across the briefing table.

‘I personally chose the pilots for that mission, and I personally instructed them what the Chapter expects. I used the word ‘shield’ so they would understand their role, and I made it clear that they would probably not return. I also explained to them why we want this. They all accepted their fate. Their names were serf-pilots Tuone, Santino, Fuesta and Krknos; Krknos served us for more than fourteen years, and he personally saved my life at the Greenfield Insurrection. We demanded a lot from them, but not more than what the Imperium demands from us. Believe me, Essen, if there had been a safer and less punishing strategy, I would have chosen it – but there was none.’

Mikals looked at Essen, who slowly closed his eyes.

‘I understand this, Brother-Captain.’ He sighed. ‘I withdraw my complaint.’

The captain looked at him for some more seconds, then nodded.

‘We are going to talk about this later, brother.’ His voice was now soft and kind. ‘Now on to the last item. Adept Brakk, what is the Opportunity’s Warp capability?’

The slightly robotic voice of the Mechanicus adept answered.

‘By the grace of the Omnissiah, the Opportunity is warp-capable and ready to leave.’

‘Thank you, adept.’ Malistrum tuned to the Navigator. ‘Navigator Yasmilda, what is the current status of the Astronomicon?’

The Navigator looked up, obviously a little disturbed that somebody directed a question to her.

‘The flicker of the Astronomicon is regular and stable at the moment. Of course, I have no guarantee that it will remain stable in the long run, but experience tells me that it should stay that way for at least a few more days.’

‘Thank you, Navigator. Well,’ The Space Marine Captain addressed the room, ‘If there is nothing else, I conclude this briefing over and done.’

There was nothing else. The captain continued. ‘Our next target is Ablathea. On our way there, we will be forced to make a detour to the Astropathicus outpost at the Cephola system. It will cause a regrettable two or three days’ delay, but I have received some worrisome news from the Librarium, and this is an issue I want to check before we commit ourselves for long months. You will be briefed about it as needed. With this,’ he stood up, and the others followed, ‘it is time for us to leave this place.’

He activated his vox.

‘Bridge? It is time to go.’

The Opportunity shook and started to vibrate. The briefing room had no window, but everybody knew what they would see: the strike cruiser was leaving the orbit of Novgarrod III, and made way for the outer boundaries of the system to make the jump into the Warp in approximately one day.

The captain looked at the chaplain.


‘Captain.’ The chaplain raised his voice. ‘It is time to pray. Pray for the dead and pray for the living: pray for those who died in the service of the Imperium and pray for those who live now because of the sacrifice of others. Death surrounds us wherever we go. We cannot avoid it, and even delaying it means that others may suffer for our laxity. Everything dies eventually. Mortals,’ waved towards the human serfs, ‘machine,’ he addressed Adept Brakk, ‘and Astartes. In time, even the Chapter may die, as it already has once.’

Nobody said anything.

‘And yet,’ the chaplain continued, ‘our sacrifice has a meaning beyond the simple survival of the individual. The Imperium endures and lives forever, and so does our beloved Emperor, who made the ultimate sacrifice for us more than eleven millennia ago. Pray for his eternal vigilance, pray to Him for our successes and pray that we may continue to serve Him and Mankind. Pray to Him without whom we would be less than nothing’

And so the people in the briefing room prayed as the ship went on to its next mission.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Gaius Marius » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:38 am

Very very good Meaneye. You've really realized the characters well.
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:48 pm

It is time for another update.

Only one thing to say before you read it: I don't kow how the Imperial Tarot is supposed to work in the 40K stories. In Ian Watson's books, they used the cards more or less the same way I represented it, but in other books (Execution Hour, Atlas Infernal), they simply draw a card and read it. I suppose there was no official source for it, or every writer used it as they wanted to. Anyway, this version can point at some interesting events in LordLucan's basic storyline, so it will do.

Enjoy :)

Part Eight

Essen and Andorias left the briefing room almost the same time.

‘I can’t believe you talked back to the Captain,’ said Andorias.

‘I can’t believe you don’t understand what my problem is,’ shot back Essen.

Andorias stopped.

‘The mission was successful, and you made a better tally than even the Captain hoped for. You have proven yourselves, what else do you want?’

Essen also stopped and looked back at his fellow sergeant.

‘We could have avoided those losses, that’s my problem.’

‘We can rebuild the Aquilas.’

‘Four people died unnecessarily! Four mortal members of the chapter. Does this mean nothing to you?’

‘Of course it does,’ answered Andorias. ‘It will take years to train their replacements.’

Essen opened his mouth, then he closed it.

‘You are unbelievable,’ he said and went on.

‘They all had their last rites and confessed before the mission,’ Andorias called after him. ‘Chaplain Uskovich personally absolved them of all sins.’

Essen stopped.

‘Oh, really?’ he paused. ‘Well, if this is the case, then everything is all right, isn’t it?’

He went away.

‘I’m glad you finally see things my way,’ said Andorias to the empty corridor.

Miklas carefully avoided Sergeant Andorias, and went on his business. He heard some of the exchange between the two Astartes officers, and although he was a privileged member of the human serf contingent, he did not wish to stand around when they might accidentally snap.

‘Commander Miklas?’ said a voice behind him.

Mikals turned and saw the young liaison serf standing behind him.

‘Mediator Dmitrija?’ he answered.

The two men looked at each other for a few second then started grinning and hugged each other.

‘I was kind of worried about you,’ Dmitrija said.

‘You know I won’t die without permission,’ answered Miklas. He put his arm around the younger human’s shoulder, and the two of them headed for their personal quarters.

‘So how was it down at the headquarters?’ asked Miklas. Dmitrija smiled.

‘A lot of angry generals, a lot of angry shouting… not when the Brother-Captain was listening, mind you.’

Miklas made a crooked smile of his own.

‘Did they call them names?’

‘Oh you bet they did,’ came the answer.

Miklas did not let it go. ‘Which one this time? Cold-harted bastards? Arrogant swine? Stuck-up sons of…’

‘Simple ‘jerks’ this time,’ Dmitrij interrupted.

Miklas made a hearty laugh. ‘I can imagine! Well, they were quite reserved this time.’ He looked at the others. ‘The people don’t deserve them, you know. Our masters, I mean. Only the Emperor knows how much we fight and how much we do for the Imperium, and the outsiders just simply cannot appreciate all this.’

‘I know,’ the other said patiently. He had heard the exact same thing from Miklas’s mouth a hundred times.

‘They are all incompetent buffoons. I don’t know how the other Astartes handle their business, but I am telling you this, boy, without the Space Marines, this whole Imperium would have died. Died…. damn it, it would not even have started!’

‘I know that too,’ said Dmitrija.

Miklas turned towards him and held his arm in his hand.

‘Everything we are, everything we have, we owe to the Fatemakers. This whole sector owes them so much they could not even imagine it. Never forget it, Dmitrija. Never.’

‘I will not.’

Miklas looked into the other’s eyes, then grinned again.

‘I’m just barking up the wrong vent, aren’t I?’

‘Well, you kind of do,’ said the other apologetically. ‘But I don’t mind it.’

‘You should really tell me when to shut up,’ said Miklas a little ashamed, and let the other go.

‘I like you talking,’ answered the other. They started to walk again.

‘By the way, have you got some good, non-classified war story from down there?’ smiled Dmitrija. Miklas did not need any more to start.

‘I actually do, son,’ he started, and waved with his hand to underline his story with his gestures. ‘There we were on the first day: the four tanks and Sergeant Eidrian’s squad. You know Sergeant Eidrian? Well, anyway, we only just entered the city, and we faced that bloody cultist tank formation right away. And so I said to the others…’

Commander Miklas was having the time of his life as he was slowly walking of his quarters with his son on his side. He was at peace with the world: he did a meaningful job, his only child was in an important and secure position and he belonged to the side who won all battles, crushed all opposition and succeeded every single time.

It was good to be on the winning side. The world was perfect.

Captain Malistrum waited until Commander Miklas left the briefing room, then he turned to the other two Astertes.

‘Does any of them know it?’ he asked.

Akichi shook his head.

‘There was no reason for me to tell them anything. Besides, I am still not sure what “it” is that I should not tell them.’

‘I can well imagine.’ Malistrum seemed genuinely tired now. ‘I must tell you, I am having serious concerns about this whole business, Akichi.’

The captain rarely addressed people by their first name, and this told the other two a lot about the gravity of the situation.

‘I do not doubt your abilities,’ Malistrum continued. ‘I know what you can do, I know the potential of one of the greatest Librarians currently employed by the Chapter, but this, this is…’

He stopped, as if looking for the right word.

‘This is too big.’

Both the Captain and the Librarian turned to the third person. Chaplain Uskovich shrugged and raised his hand apologetically.

‘I’m only saying what it sounds like.’

Malistrum pointed at the Chaplain.

‘There you go. It is too big, even for us.’

There was a moment of silence. The Captain made a few paces along the length of the room.

‘You should understand what I mean, Akichi. You do understand what I say, don’t you?’

Akichi looked no less concerned than his superior. ‘I know what it sound like, Uskovich, and Captain, I’m truly sorry about it, but my duty is to inform you about any possible danger that might threaten the Chapter or the Imperium in general.’ He paused for a second. ‘Or, in this case…’

Malistrum slowed down.

‘The Emperor Himself.’

‘The Emperor Himself,’ said Akichi.

Another few seconds of silence followed. Uskovich seemed somewhat less concerned than the other two; while Malistrum and Akichi were visibly nervous, he was more pensive on the issue at hand. He cleared his throat, and said:

‘The Tarot is remarkably vague and symbolic. Just because you drew the Emperor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it really is the Emperor. It could represent…’

‘I know,’ Akichi interrupted. ‘Uskovich, I have been reading the Tarot for thirty years, and I know all that there is to know about it. I know when I have to interpret the cards symbolically or not, and I know when I have a trueseeing event. This is neither vague nor symbolic. A genuine trueseeing event. I have never seen anything like this before.’

Malistrum sat down at one of the chairs.

‘Make no mistake about it, Akichi, but I have to ask… is it possible that the Tarot is malfunctioning?’ he saw the shocked look on the Librarian’s face and added, ‘This is still a more likely explanation than the Emperor being physically threatened by anything.’

‘The Tarot cannot be malfunctioning,’ answered the Librarian. He reverently pulled out a small deck of cards from his belt, and placed it on the table. ‘If it is damaged, it will no longer function. It is saturated by the power of the Emperor. He is literally the source of its power. Like the Astronomicon, it can be dimmed, it can be shaded, but it never malfunctions.’

‘Hmm.’ Malistrum rubbed his forehead. ‘There was no time for you to show it to Uskovich. For his sake, please make us another Focus.’

‘As you wish.’ The Librarian pulled five cards from the deck and placed them, face down, on the surface of the table. The five cards formed a star, with four of the cards touching each other by the corners, one stranding alone.

The Librarian’s hand hesitated above the first lonely card, then turned it up.

‘The Emperor,’ he pronounced. ‘The focal point of the whole issue. This card came up first when I was trying to make a standard divination. This card never comes up first because it would make no sense. The Emperor’s person never becomes the focus of the events. It would suggest His direct involvement on a physical level.’

The others listened intensely. They were not psykers like Akichi, but they knew enough of these rituals to take it absolutely seriously. The Librarian Astartes had foreseen wars and great catastrophes, and on one occasion, he was actually able to prevent an insurrection by using the same deck of cards alone. In the last few centuries, psykers had become a lot stronger, and Akichi’s power was great even within his own generation. The two Astartes had absolute faith in him – or at least used to have until this moment.

‘After the first divination, I started to make this star form, the Focus. It is only useable after the key factor of some great calamity is identified. The separate card is always from the Major Arcana; while the other four are supposed to clarify the vision, and they are from the four Minor Arcanas. Discordia, Adeptio, Creatio, Mandatio; one from each, no matter how I draw from the deck.’

‘This would suggest that you search for the first card, the one which indicates the nature of the danger, directly in the deck, put it down, and only chose the other four randomly,’ the Chaplain mentioned.


‘But you drew the first card randomly from the deck too.’

Akichi sighed. ‘This is because it doesn’t matter any more how I choose the first card, it is always the Emperor. Even if I choose it randomly.’

The other two Astartes exchanged looks.

‘Continue, please,’ said Uskovich.

‘Well, this is where it gets really confusing,’ said Akichi. ‘There is supposed to be one card from each Minor Arcana. This is Discordia, the nature of the enemy – or a possible ally to counter the threat.’

He turned the first card. There was a human-shaped figure on it, but it was shaded by some dark mist, so not even its outlines were clearly visible.

‘I don’t know what to do with it,’ said Akichi. ‘It’s an enigma, a mystery. I cannot decipher it. However, it gets worse.’

He turned the other card.

‘This is supposed to be Adeptio. Work, labour, effort. A possible solution. Except this card is not Adeptio.

The picture on the card looked like a warp gate as seen from the real-space side – actually, the only side from which such gates could be visible without causing immediate insanity.

‘Sometimes a new picture appears in the Tarot when the nature of the phenomenon is completely new. My mentor, Librarian Montiers told me once that something similar happened when the New Devourer first appeared on Octavius, and his Discordia and Creatio cards both showed the same Hyper-Fiend figure for a month. We have a phenomenon which is just as new as that one used to be.’

This was a gloomy prospect. ‘Can you make a guess what this is supposed to be?’

‘Well, a warp-gate means travel, translocation and even the passage of time. I can’t make a better guess than this,’ answered the Librarian, then turned up the next card.

Creatio. Astropath.

All three of them looked upon the limp figure of navigator Yasmilda. Her headband was missing, and her third eye was visible; or, rather, the place where she used to have her third eye was visible. She had three empty eye sockets on her face.

Although the other two Space Marines did not use the Tarot, they had seen it employed before, so they knew what it meant.

‘It is upside down,’ remarked Malistrum, ‘so it represents destruction, not creation.’

‘And Navigator Yasmilda is merely symbolic because you are the one who made the Focus, so the figures take the shape of those respective individuals that you know.’

‘Precisely,’ answered Akichi. ‘Unless,’ he added with a dry smile, ‘she becomes directly involved with the Emperor.’

‘If it is symbolic, what does it represent?’ asked Malistrum.

‘Warp-voyage. The Astronomicon itself. Contact between various worlds. Nothing good will come out of it either way.’

There was only one card turned down: Mandatio, symbolising stability, the closing act of divination. It usually referred to the final outcome of events or the state after the crisis at hand resolves itself. Akichi turned the card up.

It was empty.

‘The cards are psy-reactive sheets which only come alive when a trained psyker touches them,’ the Librarian explained, ‘but this card doesn’t show anything.’

‘Perhaps…’ the Chaplain started, but Akichi did not let him finish.

‘No, it cannot malfunction. The Imperial Tarot is one set. One card stops working, the whole deck becomes useless. This is different. It feels like…’ he seemed to be looking for the right words. ‘It seems like the card referring to the future outcome stays empty because the deck will have no power in the future.’

‘The deck can be destroyed in that future,’ the Captain pointed out.

‘It would not be enough. The deck works now, but the future will lack the power which makes it work.’

‘Meaning the power of the Emperor.’

‘Meaning the power of the Emperor,’ Akichi nodded. ‘However, this is not the only bad news I have for you today, Captain.’

Malistrum made a tiny smile. ‘Do not spare us, Librarian.’

Akichi continued.

‘The card of the Emperor first appeared four days ago. We were busy preparing for the attack phases, so although I warned you about this, you said that I should not tell anyone else because it would only distract attention from the current operation. You asked for clarification, and as soon as I came back from the surface, I asked my fellow Librarians to confirm my vision.’

He sighed.

‘So I went to Maartoch, and asked him to make a regular divination. He made it, and it showed nothing of the sort of things my divination warned about. We judged it to refer to the Ablathea war, and by the way, it predicted that that mission will cost our strike team a lot of Astartes.

‘As we expected,’ said the Captain.

‘Quite. After his first divination, I told Maartoch why I asked him to draw from the Tarot, and then asked him to make a second attempt.’

‘And this time the Emperor came up,’ said Malistrum.

‘From that moment, the Emperor came up every time we attempted to cast the cards,’ the Librarian answered. ‘We went to find Librarian Sathori, and the result was the same. Regular divination before he knew what we were expecting, and the warning about the Emperor and that unnatural Focus afterwards. I sent Sathori to the Astropaths alone because I wanted to distance myself from the casting attempt. Walter doesn’t use the Tarot, but Iljuno does, and Sathori had exactly the same result with him. Whoever finds out about this warning will be able to divine it later, but the event itself is not foreseen originally.’

Malistrum leaned forward in his seat.

‘I don’t have a lot of experience concerning divination. What is the meaning of all this in your opinion?’

‘Well, captain, I can only guess at this stage, but I feel that the Tarot is showing an unexpected and singular event which disrupts the normal flow of time so profoundly that not even the well-established precognition methods can see it. We are somehow linked to this event; I cannot say why or how, but we, and only we, Strike Force Four, are part of it in some way. I was the original link, and by telling the others about this, they are now part of the event.’

‘It is difficult to imagine that we, Strike Force Four, found something that nobody in the Imperium did,’ said Malistrum. ‘We are Space Marines, but we are not gods. What can we do against something which will occur a whole segmentum away? We can warn the right people, but this suggests something else, doesn’t it? It is more serious than that. It is too…’

‘Big,’ finished the Chaplain.

‘I know that, Captain,’ said Akichi with a strange light in his eyes, ‘but this is… for the Throne, this is about the Emperor!’

Malistrum waved impatiently.

‘I know that, Akichi. I am not saying that this is not real or not serious. I only say that our chapter is not the right one to be a key factor in this.’

‘May I try something, Captain?’ asked the Librarian.

Malistrum nodded. Akichi shuffled all cards in the deck and placed them inside the Tarot-box. He held the box in front of his captain.

Malistrum frowned. ‘I have no psyker power. The card would not react to me.’

‘By holding the deck in my hand, I can give it a measure of power,’ came the answer. ‘Not enough to make your draw redundant – but you are right, the card is still not supposed to show anything in your hand.’

Malistrum cast a last doubtful look at the Librarian, pulled the deck of cards slightly from the box, then pulled out one card from the middle of the deck. He turned it.

It was an Emperor.

‘Now try again,’ said Akichi.

‘Can the same card come up again?’ asked Malistrum.

‘Not normally. Not in the same casting attempt,’ answered the Librarian.

Malistrum pulled out a second card.

That was an Emperor too.

‘May I try it?’ asked Chaplain Uskovich, to which Akichi simply held out the deck towards him. The Chaplain drew a third card and held it up.

The three Astartes had nothing else to say for a few seconds.

‘Like somebody yelling into our face at the top of his voice to warn us about something important,’ the Captain remarked.

‘It seems that way, Captain,’ said Akichi.

Malistrum looked at Uskovich. The Chaplain’s handsome features looked particularly strained as he held up his own card.

‘It is the Emperor, Captain,’ he said. ‘We cannot ignore this.’

‘I was afraid you would say that.’ He and Uskovich gave back all the cards to the Librarian, then the Captain stood up and continued. ‘We are making a detour to the Cephola Astropathicus base. Even if your warning had somehow resolved itself, it would be time for a regular check-up for general Astropathic communication.’

He started to walk up and down.

‘Ablathea will deplete our assets anyway, so I believe this will be the last point of our patrol tour, but we always make a check-up before we return to Reserve Force for re-supply anyway. This will not cut into or timetable that much. We are going to take the opportunity to make a greater divination. Will a hundred Astropaths be able to clear the Focus cast?’

The Librarian smiled.

‘They should be more than enough.’

‘Then this is what we will do. You will take both your Librarian brothers, collect the Astropaths and do whatever you need to find the nature of this threat. If Strike Force Four is a key factor in this event, we will be a key factor by finding out exactly what this is about. Then we do what we can to warn the Imperium. We will be in the middle of the biggest Astropathic installation in the sub-sector, so communication will not be an issue. We will shout. As loud as we can so it reaches Terra itself. Raise a general alarm. That will be enough. They will sort it out for themselves, because I still believe that this is just too big for us alone.’

The other two listened intently.

‘I checked the records and it seems that Strike Force Two made a naklonjenost-treaty with the base five decades ago, and the Cephola Astropaths still owe the Chapter a favour. They are a tradition-bound institution, so they will honour our request, but I think it may not even come to that. They should realize a threat this big on their own. We are not particularly popular with Terra, so we will use Inquisitorial codes for the message there. Chaplain, you have served in an Inquisitor’s retinue for almost a decade, so I am counting on you to make a message that they cannot ignore.’

The Chaplain nodded gravely. Malistrum stopped and glared at the other two.

‘Just so we are absolutely clear on this: we are about to abuse Inquisitorial power. We are about to double-cross the Inquisition. They were the only Imperial branch who were willing to support us at the formation of the new Chapter, and we will alienate them with this. This will affect the Chapter as a whole; it can even doom us forever. We are going to need a really good reason to act this way. An absolutely good reason, with a crystal clear divination and a Focus which shows exactly what we are facing now. Do you understand me?’

‘We do, Captain,’ said the Chaplain. Akichi merely nodded.

‘Good.’ The Astartes Chaptain waved to the two men. ‘So this is the end of our briefing. Needless to say, all this remains confidential. Not even our brothers may know about this until the very last moment; possibly until we resolve this crisis somehow.’

‘We understand this, Captain,’ said Uskovich. ‘We will not let you down.’

The two of them stood up.

‘The Emperor protects,’ said Malistrum.

‘He does, even today,’ said the Chaplain with great conviction, looking at the Tarot in Akichi’s hand.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Gaius Marius » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:07 am

Very, very natural dialogue between the Astartes Meaneye. That's something that's really hard to capture that is. Also, I kind of like the 'doomed to fail' thing that's going on. You know they're not going to make it, but you're still going to root for them.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Midgard » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:40 pm

Glad this is still ongoing. There is a very "calm before the storm" feel, and I cannot wait for the next part when all hell breaks loose. Very nice descriptions of the disturbing, unfathomable (to the characters) prediction/danger they are trying to deal with.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:45 pm

I'm sorry, Midgard, but all hell will break lose only in the next part, not in today's update; although the Fatemakers may still complete the mission successfully. Who knows? maybe they will warn the Emperor in time, the next update will be the last one, and 50k and 60K will not happen. In this case, i would like to respectfully ask all other 50K and 60K writers to delete their stories :lol: .

However, since I have the layout of the story in my head, and it contains about 33-34 updates altogether, things may not work out quite in favour of Malistrum after all :twisted: . Until the next update (due on Sunday), have another part where the Captain is remembering his troubled past.

Part Nine

Astropathicus Base, Cephola System, Subsector Echydra

Eleven hours before the Emperor’s death

The Cephola Astropathicus Base was the Echydra subsector’s largest communicational network. It contained more than eight hundred trained Astropaths with all the necessary support crew: maintenance, police and Arbites forces, Mechanicus contingent and the ever-present Ministorium were all represented. The base had the responsibility of processing and transmitting the Astropathic messages between Subsectors Echydra and Melanias, as well as all the internal communication in the Galactic south and southwest of the subsector. It gave a special strategic importance to the system, which in turn drew a considerable Navy presence and traffic to the core planets, Cephola I and III.

It took the Fatemaker cruiser Opportunity eighteen days to get here. This detour meant a four-day delay compared to the cruiser’s original destination in the Ablathea system. This, in turn, meant approximately sixty thousand dead loyalist soldiers who had probably died in the Abathea war during those four days. The Fatemaker’s captain, Malistrum, did not consider this a failure. This was a necessity, a burden that the Fatemaker Chapter had been bearing from the very beginning. Sacrifice your own men when necessary; sacrifice others when your men are not enough. Sadly enough, the present crisis made this sacrifice absolutely justified.

‘Cephola Base is hailing us, Brother-Captain’ said one of the bridge crew members. The crew consisted of normal human serfs, just as the operational ethics of the Chapter dictated. It could have been a symbol of superhumans and mortals working together in harmony, but the truth was more practical than that: by freeing Astartes personnel of many of their traditional obligations, like piloting their machines, the number of battle-ready infantry grew even without breaking the regulations of Codex Astartes. One hundred battle-brothers fight in every strike force: the drivers and pilots can be humans. The system worked, and that was the important thing.

‘Greet them and ask for permission to land a Thunderhawk,’ answered Malistrum. The serf transmitted his request, and waited for the answer.

‘They are offering us to anchor and dock next to the base,’ he replied.

‘That will not be necessary,’ said the Captain. ‘One Thunderhawk with fourteen Astartes are going to visit them. Request an immediate audience with the Base’s chief Astropath.’

‘As you wish, my lord,’ said the serf.

Malistrum nodded to Chaplain Uskovich standing next to him.

‘I entrust this issue to you, Chaplain.’

‘I will see it through,’ said Uskovich. He was wearing his skull-faced helmet now, which he did not intend to remove until the successful completion of the mission. He meant to show the outsiders that he was in business today.

The captain watched his Chaplain leave, then turned back to the windows of the command deck and looked at Cephola Base. The base used to be a huge space-station, an earlier and now obsolete version of the Ramillies star-fort. There was no traffic around it. The nature of the work done at the base meant there could be no outside interference from a crew of blunt humans, and the superstitious ship crews were happy to oblige and avoid the space station altogether. Once the Opportunity had passed the outer defence patrols of the Imperial Navy, the Fatemakers were more or less alone.

Brother-Captain Malistrum personally oversaw every single detail of the anchoring manoeuvre and the launch of the Thunderhawk ship which carried the delegation. There was no space travel around the station, which made the Opportunity’s work all the easier, but the base was too important not to have a set of defence monitors, cannon batteries and automatic defence systems. A series of uncompromising protocol procedures had to be observed and fulfilled, which required a Captain’s undivided attention. However, Captain Malistrum was an Astartes, a more evolved human form than the other mortals of the Imperium. While navigating his ship in the correct position, his attention was divided between the tasks of the strike cruiser and his own personal thoughts.

The leader of Strike Force Four was deadly tired.

It was not some sort of physical tiredness. It takes a lot for a Space Marine to get tired, and the passing of years was certainly not such a reason. His mind was also sharp and keen. He was a brilliant tactician and a good leader, and his devotion to the cause of Mankind was as complete and unwavering as ever. His tiredness occurred at a deeper level; it was as if his soul was getting fed up with the existence that he had to endure.

Captain Malistrum was very old. He was well past his one hundred and eightiest year of service as a Space Marine, and he had seen a lot. He had seen the near fall of the Imperium, and he had witnessed shocking changes in the dynamics of the Galaxy. Perhaps he had seen too much. He certainly had enough experience to look at the human race and see the so-called ‘big picture’. He saw the misery of the Imperium and the many enemies that Mankind had to face day after day, but he also saw how a few select individuals can change the life of untold millions. He had fought every imaginable foe that the Galaxy could provide, and he bested them, one after the other. Still, in the last few years, he had been nursing the nagging feeling that all he had done was in vain, and the frustration inside him was growing bigger and bigger.

The Galaxy was different when he first took on the rock-crete armour of the Fatemakers. That was the age of the New Devourer, a terrible amalgamation of two older enemies: the Ork and the Tyranid. The new species came from the Octavius system, where a tendril of the extra-Galactic Tyranid hive-fleets attacked a well-established Ork empire. Who could have thought that the war between the two species would be fought not only between fleets and infantry, but also on a cellular level? Almost a century of continuous warfare resulted in the merge of the two species creating something new, something sinister: a race capable of bio-engineering and biotechnology at the same time.

When the New Devourer broke out of the Octavius system, the result was apocalyptic. The Ork species proved to be more psychic than the Imperial scientists predicted, and reacted to this new threat on a racial level. The whole species came into motion and attacked the bio-technological tendrils of the new hive fleet in previously unimaginable waves. The greenskin finally got its perfect Waaaagh!. It was racial suicide on a cosmic scale as uncounted trillions of Orks hurled themselves upon this new foe, only to be annihilated and their biomass absorbed.

The Tyranids proved to be more cautious, but their reaction caused no smaller turmoil. After a few utter defeat at the hands of this new, more evolved species, they simply decided to leave the Galaxy and avoid the new challenger altogether. The few Astropaths in the Imperium talented enough to scan whole sectors with their powers drew a fascinating picture as they managed to follow the movement of the hive-fleets’ Warp shadows across the galaxy: in a few years’ time, the species pulled all its tendrils out of the Milky Way, and slowly descended downwards, away from human-inhabited space.

The New Devourer then turned its attention to the other species. For centuries, it rampaged across the Galaxy, doing what its name indicated. Its bio-harvesting mechanisms were not significantly more advanced than its Tyranid predecessors, nor did it move faster in interstellar space, but its regenerative and fighting capabilities were staggering. It took so much raw power to destroy even one specimen effectively that the task made the Imperium nostalgic for the original Tyranids. It was fast, it multiplied at a crazy rate and more often than not, an open battle with its bio-constructs meant that it only got stronger and more numerous in the end.

Malistrum started his service as a Fatemaker Scout in those terrible years. He fought only rarely against the New Devourer directly (even superhuman Astartes usually got to fight once with those mosters), but he experienced its effect on the wider Galaxy quite vividly. The Orkish Waaaagh!-migration was feeding the last waves of greenskin brutes to the enemy, but they still rampaged through human-inhabited systems to get to their great fight, and the Fatemakers were hard-pressed to contain or at least control the green hordes’ movement to avoid greater losses than necessary. The human race launched its own migration. The systems which were the targets of the New Devourer tried to save their population, or at least the ruling caste from total annihilation, and the exponentially bigger fleet movement totally disrupted normal Imperial life. The billions of fleeing homeless and desperate people tried to reach the areas yet untouched by the New Devourer, which caused all kinds of problems, from refugee control and the distribution of provisions to famine and civil wars. Chaos was on the ascendance. Local cults found their insidious work much easier now that the Imperium’s forces were otherwise engaged, and countless populations were infiltrated and tainted by the mortal followers of the Four Great Powers. Abbadon and his blood-crazed hordes finally broke out of the Eye of Terror, and with the invasion of Cadia, began to shape humanity into their own dark image. Even some new xenos empires emerged and laid claim to the space surrounding their territories, although their ascendance usually proved to be short-lived as the New Devourer did not make difference between humans and aliens.

Passing the escaping civil populations, warfleets and armies were struggling to reach the enemy and destroy them before they consumed too much of the Imperium to keep it together. Various institutions tried various methods to counter this new threat. The Mechanicum opened its vast databanks and found technologies which were too instable to be deemed safe for everyday use, but which now meant a possible salvation for Mankind. The Inquisition looked for methods to poison or disrupt the fleets much like they had tried to eliminate its predecessors, the Tyranids. Astartes Chapters and Imperial Guard regiments launched suicidal attacks on individual fleets and tendrils to ensure the safety of some key planets – or, sometimes, to avenge the loss of their homeworlds. The galaxy was truly burning, and the treacherous thought entered into the mind of even the most resolute warriors: this is the end. Mankind, indeed all life in the Galaxy, will be destroyed not by some well-known xenos force, not by Chaos, not even by the Tyranids, but by this new upstart species.

To say that those had been trying times would have been a huge understatement. However, this alone was not enough to foul the spirit of Captain Malistrum.

The Astartes leader leaned forward and gave an order to the helmsman.

‘Request coordinates for orbital path.’

‘As you wish, captain.’

A few decades earlier, a miracle happened. The New Devourer united all its rampaging fleets and started to move out of the Galaxy. Nobody had any kind of explanation. This new race did not even have the motivations of its Tyranid predecessor. Where was it heading? Why did it leave in such a hurry? What thing or reason in creation could have made these monsters change their plan of devouring the Galaxy?

Malistrum was not sure he would have wanted to hear the answers to these questions. Some of the more optimistic – or more political-minded – Imperial leaders called it a victory, but the Astartes Captain knew enough of the world to realize that this miracle had nothing to do with Mankind’s efforts. Maybe it was even temporary: one day they may return to finish the job. The Imperium merely got an extension which Men should have used as best as possible to prepare for the incoming storm.

It was a humbling thought that humans had been too weak to protect themselves against a foe. However, not even this was enough to make the Captain a bitter man inside.

The period of great destruction was followed by a period of rebuilding. The Imperium had to take stock of all its remaining assets and regain some of its lost strength. The estimated losses were so great that it was almost pointless to actually count how much the New Devourer had cost over the centuries. Whole sectors were completely devoid of any kind of life-form, and those places that survived were only shadows of their former selves. Overcrowded to the point of incapacity, filled with misery and insecurity, without any hope of improvement, the New Devourer’s legacy was a series of wars and genocides.

Yet, for Captain Malistrum, who was at that point battle-weary and exhausted, this period came as a second chance: for him, for the Chapter and for Mankind in general. As the Imperium started to clear the rubble, it was surprising to see how its traditional enemies had fared in the face of the new, all-consuming enemy.

The new Galaxy was curiously devoid of some old dangers. The last Orkish Klans had managed to catch up with the New Devourer just in time to destroy themselves on the beasts’ ships before their bio-technological fleets started to rise from the Galactic plane to disappear in the outer darkness of space. Indeed, to Captain Malistrum’s best knowledge, the very last active Ork Klan known to Men was being chased to be exterminated by the legendary hero of the Armageddon Wars, Commissar Yarick just as the opportunity was getting near the Astropathicus Base. One more decisive victory, and the greenskin menace will disappear from the Galaxy altogether.

The Tyranids had left even earlier, and the Captain supposed that they would not come back. They had found their match in the New Devourer, and even if they actually did turn back and attack again; well, the Imperium was hardened by a long-lasting war against a much more dangerous foe. They had far more destructive weapons and tactics now than during the Tyranic Wars. They were, in the captain’s opinion, a threat already passed by.

Some other, less obviously dangerous races had been ousted from the great game. The Imperium had not seen a single Eldar in decades, and although strategists could not imagine that the whole species had been destroyed, they must have been decimated so severely that they would never pose a threat to human-inhabited space. Lesser races had disappeared by the dozen: they could not withstand the attacks of the New Devourer, and so they had become history. The Tau had been cut off from the Imperium by a series of burnt-out subsectors, and it seemed unlikely that the blue-faced xenos would cross that dead no-man’s-land; not without centuries of massive terraforming and rebuilding anyway. The Hrud had also disappeared, perhaps forever: certainly, they had not been active for a great while.

By the end, even Chaos was weakened at several key locations, although Abbadon, the leader of the Black Legion, had managed to make one of his most famous military successes and took complete control over the Cadian System. In other places, Chaos disappeared or at least receded. The corsair fleets of the Maelstrom withdrew back to the Warp where the Imperium had neither the strength nor the will to follow them. Elsewhere… local Chaos empires collapsed in most cases, although the rabble from those places almost always fled towards Imperium-held space. Gone or dissolved, the result was the same: they had become weak.

Malistrum experienced a brief decade of optimism. Surely, this was the time for the Imperium to re-organize and go on the offensive? The only major threat to its rule was the slowly expanding Chaos-dominated space around Cadia. There were no longer Orks, for Throne’s sake! The Armageddon War was just a distant memory. All extragalactic menace disappeared, perhaps for good. The Eldar no longer harassed the systems of Men, safe for the periodic incursions of their most sinister clans. As a Fatemaker, Malistrum (then merely a Brother-Sergeant) knew exactly what was to be done in a similar situation: regroup, fortify, then attack. Just like his Chapter had done after Borshak.

The years came and went, and the long-awaited re-organization never came. Malistrum had not really got the chance to see the full bureaucratic incompetence of the Imperium at work during the crisis decades – or perhaps he had seen it all, but managed to blame it on the general panic and chaos? After the New Devourer, the Imperium had no more excuses for its negligence. Why did they not re-patriate the teeming masses of refugees? Why did they let key systems get choked and slowly die under the ongoing pressure? Why did they allow the Chaos cults fester and spread again in the Imperium? Why did the military campaigns allow themselves to get bogged down in insignificant conflicts while more urgent crises were left alone?

Why was the glorious Imperium of Men led by petty, vain and incompetent people?

Malistrum did not have any answer. He knew that it was possible to win the eternal war on all frontlines; for the first time in millennia, the Imperium truly had a chance to reign supreme. It hurt him to no end hurt to see the empire which he had been protecting for almost a century slowly fail; to see the Imperium lose not the war but the peace as well. Every single year, he had become more and more frustrated. The Fatemakers were always on the forefront, but they were forced to fight the wars of others. He saw Space Marines come and go under his command, some of them greater than his present soldiers, some of them lesser, but they were all heroes of a thousand missions. Yet, it was frustrating. It was frustrating to fight where a fight was not necessary: to battle because somebody – someone weak, someone undeserving of power – had made a mistake and was unwilling the pay the necessary price to correct it.

The Fatemakers in general did not bother themselves with these questions; firstly, because there was never enough time for it, and secondly, because they had learnt the lesson of humility at Borshak. The new chapter was content to do its job well, leaving it to others to handle the greater trials and tribulations of the Imperium. Malistrum could not challenge his own brothers’ views, so instead he did the only other possible thing: he buried himself in the missions wholeheartedly. His singular dedication earned him the title of Brother-Captain, and so he was able to command a full company of Astartes, the most lethal striking force in the Galaxy.

If he had thought a hundred Space Marines would have made a difference, he had to be bitterly disappointed. He could simply not break out of the cycle. He only ever had time to react to the next urgent emergency-call, and whatever grand plans he had for the rescue of the Imperium, now all the change he could make was to decide which planet deserved their help and which had to be left to burn. He found that his hands were even more tied than before.

Any lesser man would have given up or would have snapped and done something irreparable. This was the kind of situation where loyal Astartes had become homicidal, renegade or worse in the past. Who knows; maybe this had been the reason for the treachery of the Twilight Monks? In the end, it mattered not because Captain Malistrum did not break. He remained the same stalwart Astartes that he had ever been, and his stoic leadership and practicality won his people’s hearts. Still, it made him gloomy and depressed, a fact that he had great difficulty hiding from his fellow Space Marines. But hide it he did, and by now he had managed to lead Strike Force Four on four successive patrol rounds into the Malachias Sector.

He had been a captain for seventy years. He had 55 years of patrol behind him, with exactly one thousand three hundred and nineteen successful and two failed missions. The two failed ones had cost the Imperium two continents’ worth of territories. He had been forced to bomb them with cyclonic torpedoes along with Navy vessels commissioned by the Inquisition. The Inquisitorial reports deemed both missions successful: they stopped further demonic contamination, and that was enough for them. For him, this was another source of irritation and anger at the short-mindedness of an Imperial organization. Not about the bombing, oh no: that was a necessary sacrifice, which the Fatemakers understood all too well. However, logic dictated that those two wounded worlds should receive special attention and care so they could rebuild.

Seven years after his second bombing missions, Strike Force Four was forced to return to the very same site and quell a local insurrection originated from a massive food riot – all because the subsector’s central government had neglected to send the locals help to offset the effects of blowing away the planet’s primary agricultural region. Captain Malistrum was forced to personally kill the leader of that insurrection: the son of the original planetary governor who reigned during the bombing, a young man who had merely been a boy during the original crisis.

The quelling of the insurrection was his eight hundred and twenty-fifth successful mission. The rescue of the rebel leader when he had been a boy had been his seven hundred and sixtieth.

‘Receiving orbital coordinates from the base,’ said the helmsman.

‘Confirm and follow,’ answered the Captain.

The third patrol round was about to be over for Strike Force Four. Ablathea would deplete their force to a degree that they would be unable to continue without consolidation. The Opportunity will return to the reserve fleet of the Chapter and the company will build up its numbers. Some of the veterans will be selected for Inquisitorial escort duty according to the stipulations of the Chapter’s long-term naklonjenost-agreements. Other veterans will join his men in their stead as those brothers currently tied up elsewhere would return to the Fatemakers. Perhaps Strike Force Four would be replaced by another cruiser and they would become part of the reserve fleet for a decade. He had heard that Strike Force Eight was completely rebuilt after their losses at Duchalastra. Perhaps it was time for Malistrum’s force to rest for a while.

The Captain knew that there would be no rest for him when they would finally return to the reserves. He knew it because he knew that he would cause a great turmoil there, and it would possibly cost him his captaincy at the very least. He was too tired, too frustrated, too fed up with what he saw in the greater Imperium. He could no longer sit idle and watch everything he held dear in his life slowly fall apart. He knew that he could remain silent and continue to serve; that the Imperium had been ailing for millennia, and he would be long dead before the deterioration would really start to make its presence felt. However, it was not his way to ignore or hide ugly truths from himself or even from his beloved Chapter. He would go to Chapter-Master Fiffito, call a meeting of all available Captains, and make an issue out of it. He would suggest possible counter-measures: stronger cooperation with any willing Imperial organization, more extensive recruiting and, more importantly, the foundation of new companies, perhaps even new chapters.

The Captain knew that this was the way tyrants were born. He also knew how it was not his single chapter of one thousand warriors to take such drastic actions. He also knew what the answer of the Chapter-Master would be. He would be censured and ordered to revise his views. Since he would not be able to do so, he would also be forced to resign.

What was the future of an unworthy Captain? There was no precedence for it, so Malistrum didn’t know. All he knew was that there was no other way for him. Just because a fight was hopeless, it did not mean that it had to be avoided; even if the end result was metaphorical death. In this one thing, perhaps he was not a genuine practical Fatemaker.

The Captain was watching as his ship set on an orbital path around the Astropathicus base. Whatever his future held, he was a Captain at the moment, and he still had an Astartes strike force to manage with a mission of utmost importance. His last but one mission, presumably, but this did not matter now. Even if he did not owe anything to the Imperium – and he did, even after all what had happened – he still owed the Chapter and himself that much. He will lead the present mission to a successful conclusion, he will win the Ablathea War, and then he will face the consequences of his outspoken opinion as a true Space Marine.

Malistrum’s attention was drawn by a glimmer in the space between the Opportunity and the Cephola base. It was the engine wash of the Thunderhawk which was carrying the Fatemaker Librarian cadre and Chaplain Uskovich to the base.

The mission was under way, then. Perhaps this Astropathic divination case was exactly what the Captain himself needed right now. If the Tarot was showing the truth, this task would make a real difference for the Imperium. A simple information gathering mission; nonetheless, the result could be conveyed to the right place immediately, and more capable men would see to it that another threat be avoided with minimal losses.

Praise the Emperor, it seemed that Strike Force Four arrived in time.

The senior Astropath of the Cephola Base was called Adept Nanochka, and she was quite upset by the news Chaplain Uskovich had brought her. After she had received the warning, she and one of her assistants attempted a divination on their own. Both of them resulted in a Major Arcana Emperor as a first draw, and although Chaplain Uskovich was only marginally more familiar with human emotions than his brothers, even he could see the near panic-like concern on the two psykers’ face. They were almost too happy to allow the Fatemakers a full Astropathic séance with the help of their best specialists available.

The Chaplain was now walking on one of the Base’s corridors with a man called Chief Ugdin Cvert; both of them were holding a data-slate in their hands. Cvert was stern-looking, and had a carapace armour all over his body. The air around him reminded the Space Marine of an Arbites Judge rather than a simple administrative official. He was a vitifier, an Astropath bodyguard. The Chaplain could sympathise with this men to a certain degree because he and the Astartes both had unpleasant but necessary duties within the Imperium: they protected the garden when they had to, and they weeded it out when it was necessary. A vitifier had the authority to kill the very same psykers he was supposed to protect to prevent a possible Warp-corruption or demonic possession.

During the time Uskovich was serving at the Inquisition, he heard his team-mates call vitifiers triggermen. He found the term oddly specific.

‘It is not often that I see the Astropaths so nervous,’ the Chief said in a deep voice. ‘Your Librarian must have found something important.’

‘This was also our assumption,’ the Chaplain answered.

‘An Astropathic séance this size will take serious preparations,’ the Chief continued. ‘Have you ever taken part of a mass psyker event?’

‘I have. Although they were not sanctioned psykers, and we were under Inquisitorial order to disrupt it.’

The Chief looked up at the Astartes to see whether he was joking, but the could not see behind the skull-faced helmet, so he decided to go on.

‘Well, this one is exactly the opposite. The protective wards and the necessary psychic precautions are the Astropaths’ area, and we will have nothing to do with it. I’m sure your Librarian brethren will add some of their own counter-measures too.’

Uskovich nodded.

‘Basically, we non-psykers have only two functions at the event. The second one will only matter if something goes wrong. I don’t think I have to explain to you what we must do then.’

The Chaplain looked down at the gun in the Chief’s holster.

‘No, Chief, you do not.’

‘Good. If the Emperor wills it, the first duty will also be the only one. We must ensure that they are not disturbed by anything during the séance. By us, basically.’

The Chief sighed.

‘This means that any vocal communication is out of question. They will make any noise they want, we cannot. Same with vox contact. Even in your closed helmet, the waves may interfere with them somehow.’

‘So how are we supposed interact?’ asked Uskovich.

‘Hand signs. This is where our first problem comes.’ The Chief typed something into his data-slate and handed it over to the Astartes. ‘We have our code system which I do not think you are familiar with. I know that you Astartes are the perfect security choice for a situation like this, but your unfamiliarity will compromise this mission. For this reason…’

The Chief slowed down as he realized that the Astartes Chaplain was no longer walking beside him. He was standing some distance behind, looking at the various sign symbols used by the vitifier corpse of Cephola Base.

Left hand over the mouth, chest, waist… three levels… hand turned outside, wrist moves… fingers touch each other, fingers curled back…

The Chaplain went forward and handed the slate back.

‘Give us three hours, and we will learn the sign language.’

The Chief looked surprised.

‘Erm… really?’

The Chaplain touched the side of his helmet with his index and middle finger.

‘Speed learning. I don’t say that we will remember all the eight thousand signs in a week’s time, but we will be able to communicate today.’

‘Hmm.’ Cvert was professional enough to take the news in. ‘All right; this is one problem less.’ He shook his head. ‘Well, then the next issue is security. It is absolutely essential…’

They continued their journey to the chamber which was being prepared for the séance. Uskovich had to admit that he actually liked the work ethics of Chief Cvert. He was dedicated, he was ready to do unpleasant duties and he did not show the same fear that the Chaplain could see on the face of the other humans upon receiving the bad news. He was beginning to think that the mission would go on smoothly and safely after all.
Last edited by Meaneye on Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Midgard » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:23 pm

Love Malistrum's characterization. When you had started this story, you mentioned a rather low opinion of your writing. Let me tell you this - your writing is excellent, I love the atmosphere, the story, and the character introspection. If you are not considering writing further stories, you should.

I did notice a couple of things. First, Malistrum's age. A hundred-year-old Astartes is not "ancient" by most Chapters' standards, and would probably be a sergeant or a veteran sergeant in most Chapters. A hundred year old Captain is probably going to be fairly new for most Chapters, and Malistrum being in charge for forty seven years makes it a bit implausible. Yes, it is a very long time for us, but I would imagine he would be on the upper side of two hundred years, possibly around three hundred or so, if he is to feel this ancient.

Second, timeline inconsistency (or, maybe, it is just how I interpreted it). Malistrum's introspection makes it sound as if he remembered the Imperium prior to the New Devourer. If the New Devourer rampaged around the galaxy for several centuries, as the story indicates, Malistrum needs to be older than a century, and might be in fact between three and four centuries old. This issue could be fixed by adjusting a few numbers in the story, so that Malistrum is a 300 year old Captain (definitely on the old side for most Astartes Chapters, although not so ancient as to be decrepit) and was in his position for the past 150-200 years.

Third, this piece:

‘Basically, we non-psykers have only two functions at the event. The second one will only matter if something goes wrong. I don’t think I have to explain to you what we must do then.’

The Chaplain looked down at the gun in the Chief’s holster.

‘No, Chief, you do not.’

‘Good. If the Emperor wills it, the second duty will also be the only one. We must ensure that they are not disturbed by anything during the séance. By us, basically.’

Did you mean the "first" one (for the red/bolded/underlined word)? Otherwise there are two "second" functions, which is a little jarring.

Great work though, and I am looking forward to the next update!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K)

Postby Meaneye » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:04 pm

Thank you very much Midgard - for the notes and for the praise :oops:

You are right about the third point, so I corrected it (the other way round, not by your suggestion because I think Cvert referred to the duty he was expecting to do as the 'first' one).

Point two: this was supposed to be the sentence suggesting that Malistrum started his Space Marine career during the New Devourer Crisis:

Malistrum had to prove himself in those terrible years.

However, it is misleading. I think something like: 'Malistrum started his service as a Fatemaker initiate in those terrible years' would be better.

Point three: also true. I think I'm just disturbed by the inconsistent numbers in the settings; plus, when I started the story, I imagined Malistrum to look like the Ultramarine captain from the Space Marine computer game, and he had only two studs in his forehead (which is strange because a stud means only one decade of service. I always wondered what Commander Dante's forehead would look like. Possibly something like a Dalek's torso :) ).

Anyway, it makes sense to change the numbers, but then follow my logic and tell me if it sounds right. Let's say Malistrum was around seventy by the time the New Devourer left. That makes him a sergeant, but not yet ready for captaincy. Another decade for him to get disappointed, then another... let's say thirty years during which he just throws himself at his work and earns a Captain's title at the age of a hundred and ten. He has another, say seventy years as a captain; enough for some of his subordinates to become veteran sergeants on their own even from a lowly scout, so his company feels that his leadership is long, and so they can even venerate him. He is now a hundred and seventy, still not the most venerable captain, otherwise he could expect Chapter-master Fiffito to listen to his advice.

If this works, then the only question is the number of missions he has completed as a captain. I was thinking about it and said that Strike Force Four could not do more than 25 missions per year because of the great distances they had to make. Even the minor conflict at Novgarrod took them 9 days without warp travel, and they had to travel to Cephola Base for 19 days. Let's say that a full patrol round takes 15 years, and there is at least 5 years of rebuilding after that, making a cycle about 20 years. That's four patrol rounds with the last one about to end, and about 55 years of doing missions. This means that he had about 1300 missions as a captain (and I think I can leave the number of the two missions where he saved and then killed the boy the same).

I think I deserve the 'geek' symbol now :geek: . So tell me if my logic is sound.
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